Budget debate: Panel to be set up to tackle neighbourhood noise disputes

The Housing Board advises those having neighbour disputes to try and settle the matter privately before seeking mediation services. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A community advisory panel will be set up to tackle the thorny issue of neighbourhood noise disputes, and gather public feedback to establish what are unacceptable noise disturbances.

Announcing the panel on Tuesday (March 8), Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said it aims to define a set of community norms to address noise concerns among residents.

"(The panel will) look at defining what is deemed as unacceptable noise disturbances, as well as what constitutes good civic norms that residents should observe to reduce noise disturbances to their neighbours," she said.

The Government will refer to these norms for its public advisories and when facilitating mediation at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT).

Community representatives who have the relevant experience and expertise in managing municipal issues will be part of the panel to be set up by the Municipal Services Office (MSO) and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

The Housing Board currently advises those having disputes with their neighbours to try and settle the matter privately before seeking mediation services through the Community Mediation Centre or CDRT.

Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) and Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) raised this issue during the debate on the Ministry of National Development's spending plans.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) had also asked how to resolve noise disputes before it gets escalated to the CDRT.

In response, Ms Sim said the aim is for the panel to submit recommendations by the end of year.

HDB has seen an uptick in feedback relating to noise from residents' activities, including renovation noise.

Such cases went up by about 25 per cent to 3,200 cases a month in 2021, compared with 2,500 cases a month in 2020. There were about 400 cases per month in 2019.

This is likely due to work-from-home arrangements, coupled with the resumption of renovation activity in June 2020, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee last month.

Ms Sim also told the House that the People's Association and HDB will be leading an Alliance for Action, under the Singapore Together movement, to study practical solutions to better facilitate group-buy activities in HDB estates.

She said such activities support small businesses and promote interaction among residents, but could lead to inconveniences such as cluttering of goods at the common corridor when large amounts of goods are delivered to an estate and redistributed to individual buyers.

Group buy hosts, grassroots leaders and companies will be invited to join the alliance, to explore better ways of facilitating the delivery and storage of group-buy items, she added.

Giving an update on MSO's OneService app, Ms Sim said the "Happenings" feature - which shows information on renovation works at HDB blocks - will allow residents to check crowd levels at public libraries from mid-2022.

The "book facilities" feature can now allow residents to make contactless booking and payment for the use of common areas and facilities, such as multi-purposes halls and void decks.

In the second half of the year, residents will be able to submit feedback on municipal issues on the LifeSG app, which gives users access to government services. This feature is currently only available on the OneService app.

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