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How to deal with noise complaints

By Graeme Cushion, partner, Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Advice given: Poppleston Allen suggests dealing with the problem head on is the way forward (image: Getty/7713Photography)
Advice given: Poppleston Allen suggests dealing with the problem head on is the way forward (image: Getty/7713Photography)

Related tags Licensing Poppleston allen Health and safety

Poppleston Allen partner Graeme Cushion looks at the rules around music noise and residents.

Q.​ I have run a busy late-night premises in a thriving town centre for a number of years. The business was obviously significantly impacted by the pandemic, like many others.

When we reopened post-lockdowns, a new residential development had been completed and occupied directly beside my venue. The newly arrived residents are now complaining about music noise coming through the structure of our building into theirs and have complained to environmental health.

Environmental health in turn have now written to me, mentioning the possibility of the service of a Noise Abatement Notice and I do not know what to do.

A.​ It is important to get on the front foot with this rather than ignoring it and hoping that the problem will go away. You should get in touch with environmental health and arrange a meeting so that you can better understand the problem.

I wonder, for example, whether there were any noise attenuation conditions imposed as part of the planning permission for the development. It would be worth asking that question to make sure that the developer did what they should have done at the time of construction.

If that turns out to be the case, then it may be that the local authority can take planning enforcement action against the developer rather than looking to enforce against you.

You may also be wise to engage the services of an acoustic consultant to do some diagnostic testing and determine exactly what the problem is. It may be that some relatively quick and inexpensive changes at your end may serve to significantly reduce the problem, whatever the ultimate cause.

If you do get served with a Noise Abatement Notice you do have a right of appeal, but the legislation is complex and there are only limited grounds. The existence of a Noise Abatement Notice leads to a risk of prosecution through the magistrates courts and a potential unlimited fine.

It is important to also realise that the residents do have the right to apply for a review of your premises licence and that carries with it powers for the Licensing Committee to reduce your hours, remove activities from your licence (e.g. entertainment), and in the worst case suspension or revocation of the premises licence.

Dealing with the problem head on is definitely the best advice here.

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