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Community Advisory Panel on Neighbourhood Noise

About Community Advisory Panel on Neighbourhood Noise

 

Neighbourhood noise disturbance is not uncommon in a densely populated country like Singapore. However, the issue is worsened when there is a lack of consideration or communication between neighbours. The disturbance can disrupt neighbours’ daily activities like work, study or rest time, resulting in a negative impact on their quality of life.

 

 

Neighbourhood noise can be broken down into two main categories:

a. Noise from neighbours, which refers to noise from neighbouring units, such as from gatherings, furniture dragging and DIY renovation.

b. Congregational noise, which refers to noise created from people gathering in residential common areas, such as void decks, playground sand exercise areas.

Senior Minister of State for National Development and Foreign Affairs, Ms Sim Ann announced the formation of a Community Advisory Panel (CAP) on Neighbourhood Noise, at the Ministry of National Development (MND) Committee of Supply Debate on 8 March 2022.

The CAP was convened to establish what are considered acceptable or unacceptable noise disturbances, and community norms that residents should adopt to manage noise disturbances.

The CAP submitted six recommendations to manage neighbourhood noise to MSO in Nov 2022. MSO had subsequently worked with CAP to follow up on its recommendations. 

Please refer to the reports below (click on the images to find out more).

Summary of Recommendations by CAP 
Full Recommendation Report
by CAP

 

CAP's Recommendations on Community Norms

The CAP proposed the following community norms to manage neighbourhood noise, after extensive consultation with the public:

a. We should proactively build a relationship with neighbours from the onset, which would help us reach a mutual understanding in a friendly manner;

b. We should practise considerate behaviours for our community to create a peaceful and harmonious living environment; and

c. We should extend our quiet hours from the current 10.30 pm to 7 am, to 10 pm to 8 am. Residents should be considerate and observe the extended quiet hours.

The CAP also proposed a list of considerate behaviours as outlined in the Table below: 

Movement-Related
Lift your furniture, if possible, when moving it. If it is too heavy to be lifted, use items such as furniture sliders to absorb the noise.
Use door stoppers to prevent accidental slamming of doors.
Use exercise mats if you are working out at home.
Activity-Related
Lower your TV volume and avoid playing musical instruments at night.
Avoid using loud appliances such as blenders or vacuum cleaners at night. 
If your children are playing, monitor their noise level and ask them to quieten down when necessary.
Close your windows and doors to prevent noise from affecting others.
Renovation-Related
Keep DIY works to the daytime, and within a 30 min window.
Use items to soundproof the room or absorb the noise where the renovation is taking place.
Pet-Related
Move your pets to an enclosed room if they are making noise.
Train your pets to avoid excessive noises from them. If needed, seek professional assistance to train them.
Reduce external stimulus for your pets. For bird owners, cover up their cages in the evenings to allow your birds to rest and avoid excessive chirping.


MSO’s Responses 

Given the complexity of the issue, MSO engaged key stakeholders, including grassroots leaders, businesses, academics and public agencies in 2023 to review the CAP’s recommendations. A summary of MSO’s responses can be found below.

CAP’s recommendations on community norms to manage neighbourhood noise

MSO’s responses

Recommendation 1:

We should proactively build a relationship with neighbours from the onset, which would help us reach a mutual understanding in a friendly manner.

MSO accepts the recommended norms, and has worked with the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Housing and Development Board (HDB), and Community Mediation Centre (CMC) since 2023 to incorporate these norms and considerate behaviours into our respective public education campaigns.

MSO also highlighted these considerate behaviours at its Noise Experiential Lab conducted from Sep 2023 to Jan 2024, where visitors learned about the impact of neighbour noise through an immersive, hands-on experience.

MSO will continue to work with community partners and agencies to promote these commended norms and considerate behaviours to residents and general public on social media.

Recommendation 2:

We should practise considerate behaviours for our community to create a peaceful and harmonious living environment. 

Recommendation 3:

We should extend our quiet hours from the current 10.30 pm to 7am, to 10 pm to 8 am. Residents should be considerate and observe the extended quiet hours.

MSO has since engaged relevant stakeholders such as grassroots leaders, coffee shop operators and heartland merchants to understand the different perspectives on the proposed extension of quiet hours. Views were varied. While there was an acknowledgement that norms are gradually shifting, with more residents wanting stronger assurance of peace and quiet in their neighbourhoods, there was also considerable support for keeping quiet hours to the status quo while improving public awareness of what these hours are.

In view of this, MSO will take a softer approach by encouraging stakeholders to voluntarily lower their volume after 10 pm, instead of mandating all stakeholders to adhere to the extended quiet hours. We will continue to work with community partners and public agencies to promote quiet hours to stakeholders, residents and general public 

 


CAP's Recommendations on the Process to Manage Noise Disputes

The CAP also highlighted that community norms alone were insufficient to manage the issue of neighbourhood noise. Hence, it recommended for the government to review the process to manage disputes over community noise, establish a dedicated agency supported with the right powers to address the issue more effectively, and adopt a quantitative noise threshold to assess egregious cases.

MSO’s Responses 

The CAP’s recommendations and MSO’s responses are tabulated below.

CAP’s recommendations to review the approach to manage neighbourhood noise

MSO’s responses

Recommendation 4:

Designate an agency empowered with legal levers to respond to and enforce against unacceptable noise. 

 

 

MCCY, Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and MND have been working together to review the Community Dispute Management Framework (CDMF) to better manage neighbour noise disputes.

MSO has set up a pilot unit which is working closely with HDB, grassroots organisations and other agencies to develop operational protocols to address severe neighbour noise cases. The Bill to empower the pilot unit, alongside enhancements to the mediation framework and the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals’ processes, will be tabled in Parliament in 2024. More details will be provided in due course.


 

 

Recommendation 5: 

Review the process of mediation and collecting of evidence to better manage community disputes over neighbourhood noise.


Recommendation 6:

 Adopt a quantitative noise threshold in the form of a decibel limit to assess egregious cases of neighbourhood noise.

MSO engaged the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) for a noise measurement study of common inter-floor noises in the HDB setting. NTU’s findings broadly corroborated current World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines and the noise thresholds in a few other jurisdictions.

MSO consulted experts who shared there could be challenges in setting absolute noise thresholds, given that people respond to noise differently and each neighbourhood has different ambient noise levels.

In assessing severe neighbour noise cases in our local context, we are mindful that residents have subjective perceptions of severe noise disturbances. While adopting an across- the-board decibel threshold would cause operational issues, we have found through our trials that robust decibel measures using professional equipment can help determine when neighbour noise is unreasonably high at that location, compared to the normal ambient noise expected for the time of day/night, and of unreasonable duration.

We will factor in such use of decibel measures as part of our enhanced CDMF framework, and with experience gleaned from the pilot.

 

 

Dr William Wan
Chairperson
Senior Consultant, Singapore Kindness Movement
cap-member-1
Dr Foo Fung Fong
Member
Executive Director, Filos Community Services
cap-member-2
Prof Gan Woon-Seng
Member
Professor of Audio Engineering and Director of Smart Nation Lab, School of Electrical Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University
cap-member-3
Mr Isman Bin Abdul Rahman
Member
Vice Chairman, Woodlands Community Club Management Committee
cap-member-4
Ms Lela Kaur
Member
Master Mediator, Community Mediation Centre
cap-member-5
Dr Leong Chan-Hoong
Member
Senior fellow for Social Cohesion Research Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University
cap-member-6
Ms Susan Ng
Member
Presenter, CNA938, Mediacorp Pte Ltd
cap-member-7
Mr Raymond Poh
Member
Vice Chairman, Tampines Central Citizens’ Consultative Committee
cap-member-8
Dr Sathish s/o Sritharan
Member
Chairman, Taman Jurong Zone D Residents’ Network
cap-member-9

 

Please write into oneservice_community@mnd.gov.sg shouldyou have query or feedback on CAP work.

nel-updated2af42693d0c34d6997d266cf77012163

The Noise Experiential Lab is now closed. We would like to thank all visitors who joined us at the Noise Experiential Lab to learn more about neighbour noise!

MSO engaged NTU to conduct a noise measurement study in 2023 to measure the decibel levels of common inter-floor noises in the HDB setting and whether various actions of residents could help lower the noise levels.

 

NTU had measured noise levels of activities such as dragging of furniture, use of handheld drills, doors slamming, loud music, use of vacuum cleaners, etc. in a vacant HDB block at Tanglin Halt, where MSO ran the Noise Experiential Lab. Noise levels of the activities ranged from 51 to 86 dB(A)* (averaged across 1 min), depending on the types of noise and actions taken to lower the noise levels. Of the activities measured, the loudest noise was generated from the use of a handheld drill (86 dB(A)), while the quietest noise was recorded when furniture was dragged across a carpeted floor (51 dB(A)). For context, a normal audible conversation between two persons can reach 60 dB.

* dB(A) refers to decibels that have been A- weighted, which is an adjustment applied to sound measurements to reflect how a noise is perceived by the human ear.

Following consultations with external experts, it was noted that there could be challenges to set absolute (i.e. fixed) noise thresholds. The complexity arises from differences in noise perception among individuals and the diverse ambient noise conditions across different neighbourhoods. It would be more practical to consider relative thresholds, such as ensuring that noise levels do not exceed a certain increment, like 10 dB(A), from the ambient noise levels. 

In assessing severe neighbour noise cases in our local context, MSO is mindful that residents have subjective perceptions of severe noise disturbances. As part of the enhanced CDMF framework, and with experience gleaned from the pilot, we will study and factor in using decibel measures to determine when neighbour noise is unreasonably high at a certain location, compared to the normal ambient noise expected for the time of day/night, and of unreasonable duration.