Noise complaints ‘decimating UK’s cultural history’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Up in the air: many music venues are under threat due to a plethora of noise complaints (image: Getty/PeopleImages)
Up in the air: many music venues are under threat due to a plethora of noise complaints (image: Getty/PeopleImages)

Related tags Licensing Manchester London

Concerns have been raised about noise crackdowns on music venues and nightclubs by night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord.

One pub that has been threatened with closure following noise complaints is the 200-year-old Compton Arms in Islington, north London, with the case due to be heard this week (Wednesday 12 October).

In addition, the Myddleton Arms pub also in Islington, the Haggerston pub and Jago Arts and Culture venue, known as ‘the beating heart of Hackney’ have both seen an increase in noise complaints resulting in a reduction of trading hours.

Lord, who also runs Parklife and The Warehouse Project in Manchester, said: “Nightlife is in flux and fighting to survive and it’s the smaller independent and grassroots venues that are most under threat from noise restrictions and sound curfews, especially now more residents are working from home.

“It only takes one neighbour to complain for others to join suit and too often, we are seeing councils bow to keep developers happy rather than protect the night-time establishments in the area.

“We need a greater common sense approach to look beyond the commercialisation of areas steeped in music history and a deeper acknowledgement of the tourism these venues bring to city centres.”

Cultural history decimation

He referenced Manchester’s Night and Day venue, which has started an attempt to reverse a noise abatement order after complaints against the venue were made.

Lord added: “The situation facing Night and Day in Manchester – a venue famous across Europe for its support of grassroots music – is a clear example of the consequences over-development in an area historically known for its nightlife and music.

“If venues like Night and Day vanish, we will be decimating part of our cultural history.

“I have heard political suggest alcohol licences should be dismissed or removed from areas of residential development but this makes no sense. If anything, residential planning should not be granted in areas of cultural importance.”

Trade body boss Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality (UKH), echoed Lord’s argument about development near pubs.

She said: “The sector is tightly regulated when it comes to noise levels and UKH is a supporter of the ‘agent of change’ principle – where developers building new accommodation near long-standing licensed premises have a duty to mitigate noise in their plans, rather than existing premises being penalised.”

Licensing advice

Licensing experts Poppleston Allen previously outlined how all pubs have a duty to promote licensing objectives.

One of these is the prevention of public nuisance and one of the main causes of licence reviews by local residents or environmental health officers from music or customers.

Senior consultant solicitor Andy Grimsey said: “A noise abatement notice ‘shall’ be issued if the officer is satisfied a noise nuisance exists but this legal test still allows a degree of discretion and common sense. The notice itself can also be appealed if necessary.

“With regard to people moving near a pub, the ‘agent-of-change’ principle​​, which says the person or business responsible for the change is responsible for managing the impact of the change is not part of licensing law at present, despite campaigns to make it so, although it does feature in planning law.

“Again, anecdotally, we find licensing sub-committees, when having to assess whether noise nuisance has taken place often do [consider] the fact a pub may have been playing music for years without issue, although if local residents are genuinely suffering from noise nuisance this can be a very hard argument to win.”

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