Is Bonn too loud? Repeated noise complaints affecting recreation and culture
Bonn · In Bonn, cultural and recreational events often conflict with residents' wish for peace and quiet. The newest example is the recent closure of the cult discotheque "Die Falle", that had only just re-opened its doors. Open-air concerts are also often a bone of contention.
Noise protection measures and regulations are designed to improve people's quality of life. The legislation does not differentiate between the culture and the leisure industry. When Die Fantastischen Vier, Deichkind, Kraftwerk and finally the British pop star and entertainer Robbie Williams attracted tens of thousands of people to the Hofgartenwiese in Bonn at the end of August, there was a buzz throughout the city, despite massive traffic disruptions and amps turned up to the max. "It was a great concert," wrote one Facebook user after Robbie Williams's performance. "It should definitely be made possible more often like this in Bonn. In these dimensions with great artists. So that Bonn doesn't remain the city without any nightlife worth mentioning."
Conflicts are inevitable
For some people, quality of life means an attractive range of leisure and cultural activities with open-air concerts in the summer and a lively pub scene; others want above all peace and quiet. Naturally, conflicts are inevitable. The most recent example is the case of the legendary Bonn discotheque "Die Falle" on the Belderberg, which operator Andreas Jolig had only just reopened in June and now had to close again. As reported, the city had received several noise complaints from residents. This was a "complete catastrophe" Jolig told the GA, as it was for many visitors to the club, too.
"Die Falle" is not an isolated case in Bonn. Time and again, the interests of people seeking peace and quiet clash with those of gregarious people who want to have fun. They came up against each other particularly hard at the concerts of the Bonn Cultural Garden on the grounds of the Römerbad. There had been "dozens of complaints about noise to the city administration" in connection with the Kulturgarten, the administration announced last year.
The Cologne band Cat Balou and their fans experienced unusually drastic action by the city in August 2021. The permitted decibel level was exceeded, so the plug was pulled on the musicians half an hour before the official end of the event. The authorities felt they had to comply with the strict guidelines set down by the Cologne district government, they said. "We lowered the volume three times, but that still wasn't enough," co-organiser Sandro Heinemann told the GA after the concert was stopped. In the end, the Kulturgarten was powerless against the numerous noise complaints from the immediate neighbourhood, but also from Schwarzrheindorf, even from Geislar and Sankt Augustin. The Römerbad site is now history.
Compromise on KunstRasen
The KunstRasen, on the other hand, was able to hold its own. In the past, of course, there had been complaints about the noise level. In 2015, two people from Bonn went to the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Münster after the Administrative Court in Cologne dismissed their complaints about the music at the KunstRasen concerts being too loud. At the hearing, it was agreed that the organisers must check the sound level at the homes of the two plaintiffs at the beginning of each open-air season and readjust the loudspeaker systems if necessary. As a result, many visitors to the open-air concerts found the sound quality somewhat lacking.
The story of the popular Klangwelle, which was held on Bonn's Münsterplatz on several consecutive evenings from 2005 to 2013, would also have been different had it not been for noise complaints from two residents. At the time, the complainants rejected an attempt at an out-of-court settlement. Not even complimentary hotel accommodation in quiet surroundings could entice them. So the organisers had no choice but to go into exile. In 2014, they moved to the spa gardens in Bad Neuenahr. Thousands of visitors regularly made the pilgrimage to the musical light show until the pandemic and the flood disaster brought it to a forced halt.
Now, however, the Klangwelle is heading back to Bonn again. Last October, 30,000 visitors had already experienced a guest performance at the Post Tower, which had been staged there as a benefit event for the Ahr Valley. This September, the city of Bonn announced that the spectacle could return in 2023. But not in the city centre. The new location will be the Rigal'sche Wiese in Bad Godesberg.
(Org. Text: Bernhard Hartmann; Transl.: Jean Lennox)