Spring has sprung, but keep it down!

By Alex Tomlinson, solicitor, Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

(image: Getty/John Rensten)
(image: Getty/John Rensten)

Related tags Licensing Health and safety

It appears that the issue of noise has reared its head in the hospitality sector again. This time with the conclusion of the long running saga surrounding Manchester nightclub Night & Day, which has been fighting a Noise Abatement Notice served by Manchester City Council on behalf of local residents initially back in 2021.

This particular case, which concluded last week, was very complicated and apparently very costly, with Manchester City Council spending in the region of £60,000. Then of course, there were the costs for Night & Day.

Though noise issues do not always cost this much money, they are serious; and the issue of noise from licensed premises needs thorough consideration.

So now spring has sprung, which hopefully brings with it lighter nights, better weather, and an increased use of outdoor spaces, I thought it might be helpful to set out some tips for dealing with noise complaints should they arise: 

  • Operators should try to maintain good working relationships with neighbours and this could include keeping them notified of any events which may be taking place at your premises, particularly if they will involve the use of any external areas.
  • If complaints have already been received in respect of noise, then it is important to engage with the local resident(s) who have made the complaints and show your willingness to work with them to try and resolve the issues raised.
  • You should also engage with your local licensing and environmental health officers and seek their assistance to try and resolve matters on an informal basis before they are escalated to a formal complaint or formal action being taken by your local authority.
  • If the complaint has already been escalated to the relevant licensing and environmental health officers then you should ensure that you are proactive and liaise with them so they can see that you are willing to cooperate with them.
  • You should ensure that you get the full details of the complaints from the officers so that you can investigate them fully and be sure that they relate to your premises. You should then work to find a solution to prevent further problems. Demonstrating this commitment to finding solutions and preventing further problems can improve relationships and prove that you are a responsible operator.
  • Ideally all events that are taking place, especially those utilising external spaces, should be risk assessed in advance. This could include considering the type of event, the location of the event, the timings of the event and the type of entertainment that is taking place. It could also identify measures that can be put in place to monitor noise breakout - such as staff monitoring the boundary of the premises to identify any noise breakout.
  • Finally, you should consider whether you need to engage the services of an acoustic consultant to assess potential noise breakout and impact of any events or entertainment which may be taking place. Installing a new sound system or having amplified music in new areas may be a good way of attracting customers, but due consideration should be given to the potential noise impact as this could result in complaints and enforcement action being taken. The consultant should be able to advise on additional measures to mitigate noise and any potential nuisance to avoid these complaints and enforcement action.

As highlighted by many high-profile cases, including Night & Day, noise complaints can be a significant risk to your business. You could risk being served with a Noise Abatement Notice, which if breached could lead to prosecution and an unlimited fine.

Your premises licence could also be reviewed, which could result in the cutting back of your permitted hours, onerous conditions being added or, in the most serious cases, revocation of your premises licence.

It is therefore always important to be proactive when you are made aware of noise complaints from local residents.

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