Firstly, and as expected, the Platinum Jubilee Licensing Hours recently came into force; meaning that relevant premises have an extension to trade until 1am from Thursday 2 June to Saturday 4 June 2022.
Then, the Government recently tabled the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill in the House of Commons. Part of the Bill, which is currently in draft form and still needs ratifying, makes the use of pavement areas much simpler by the issuing of pavement licences under the Business and Planning Act permanent rather than the issuing of such licences coming to an end at the end of September 2022.
Without wishing to poor cold water on this positive news, as licensing solicitors we always have to look at the wider impacts of these decisions and how they can affect a licensed premises. And the obvious – and inevitable one – is noise.
So here are a few tips on how to manage noise related complaints that could put a dampener on your summer plans and royal celebrations:
- If you have residential or business neighbours, it is important to maintain good working relationships. Keep them aware of any events that might be taking place at your premises.
- If complaints have already been received, in the first instance contact your local resident complainant(s) and ensure you show a willingness to work with them to resolve things on an informal basis, without local authority involvement if possible.
- If the complaint has already been escalated to the relevant licensing and environmental health officers, ensure you liaise with them to get the full details of the complaints. Investigate the complaints to ensure they relate to your premises, and take a proactive approach in dealing with the complaint and finding a solution to prevent further problems.
- Ideally all events that are taking place, particularly those utilising outside areas, should be risk assessed in advance. If you do not have a risk assessment, put one in place immediately. This may include considering the type of event, the location, the period of the event, the terminal hours of amplified music and where speakers will be positioned.
- Consider measures that you will have in place such as staff regularly monitoring noise levels at the boundaries of premises to avoid nuisance and measures to ensure the effective dispersal of customers at the end of the event.
- Consider the use of an acoustic consultant to review the potential noise breakout against the intended operation of the premises. Installing a new sound system or having amplified music in areas where you would not usually do so without proper consideration of the potential noise impact could result in complaints and enforcement action. A consultant should be able to advise on additional measures to put in place to mitigate noise and potential nuisance to your neighbours and avoid the threat of complaints and enforcement action.
It is important to note noise complaints can be a significant risk to your business, and you could be met with enforcement action such as a Noise Abatement Notice (which if breached can result in prosecution through the Magistrates’ Court with the possibility of an unlimited fine), or your premises licence being reviewed, which can result in cutting back of your permitted hours, onerous conditions being added or, in the most serious cases, revocation.
So always ensure you get on the front foot where you are made aware of complaints from local residents.