Noise law changes urged to save live music pubs

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Music venue Live music Sound Nightclub

Newport music venue Le Pub has launched a crowd-funding initiative to raise £10,000 to soundproof the building’s roof
Newport music venue Le Pub has launched a crowd-funding initiative to raise £10,000 to soundproof the building’s roof
The Government must relax noise abatement legislation and pass the responsibility for minimising disturbance away from pubs and clubs and on to residents and developers, lobbyists have urged.

Music Venue Trust (MVT) has slammed the laws on noise nuisance as complex and outdated and called for the Government to create a clear national framework. It claims current laws depend on local interpretation and place unreasonable demands on local environmental health officers.

Agent of Change

It has also urged Government to adopt the ‘Agent of Change principle’, meaning the responsibility for minimising noise disturbance would fall on new residents or building developers rather than pubs and clubs that have hosted live music for a long time.

Bristol City Council adopted the principle last month, forcing developers to install sound proofing for new residential flats built opposite music venue, the Fleece.

“The principle is simple: If a venue increases its noise, it should make changes to adapt it. If a developer wants to build next to a music venue, they must build to adapt to the noise. If a new occupier moves into a zone where there is an accepted level of noise, they should make changes to adapt it,” MVT wrote in an open letter to three Government departments.

The trust is also looking into the option of buying freeholds on venues that are under threat, and leasing them back to tenants.


The Government deregulated the playing of live and recorded music between 8am and 11pm before an audience of up to 500 people in licensed premises last month.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The Government has recently reviewed its noise legislation as part of the Red Tape Challenge and believes that the law, as currently constituted, strikes the appropriate balance between managing the noise environment and considering the needs of business.”


Newport music venue Le Pub, which was issued a noise abatement notice earlier this year following its third complaint, has launched a crowd-funding initiative in order to raise £10,000 to soundproof the building’s roof.

Four customers have already sponsored the pub’s urinals, for £75 each, and the venue is also offering fans to buy branded glassware, invent a cocktail or to record a live music video. It has so far raised £3,235.

Le Pub campaign officer Alice Corner said: “Legislation should be more forward-thinking. Le Pub has been here for 22 years but at the moment sound proofing is the only realistic way we can continue to function as a live music venue.”

Criterion tenant Nigel Marsh, of the Georges in March, Cambridgeshire, which was taken to a licence review hearing in January following a noise complaint, also said he welcomes MVT’s recommendations.

“Councillors can listen too much to lone residents and not enough to the sway of community thinking,” he said.

'Inconsistent' and 'unpredictable'

Poppleston Allen solicitor Andy Grimsey said while the legislative framework around noise is generally uniform, the enforcement is “patchy, inconsistent and unpredictable”.

“I can see much sense to established, measurable and realistic decibel levels providing an objective criterion upon which the question of noise nuisance can be assessed,” he said.

“Too often licensees have to cross their fingers and hope their local EHO got out of the right side of the bed that morning, while outcomes of [review] hearings can sometimes depend on whether the councillors deciding the licensee’s fate enjoy live music themselves.”

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