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Noise from licensed premises

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Noise from licensed premises is a common cause for complaint, especially during warm weather. The majority of these complaints are as a result of entertainment of some kind, such as:                           

  • Noise from live or recorded amplified music;                          
  • Television or video;
  • Musical instruments;
  • Public address systems.

Problems usually occur when the licensed premises is located within a residential area.

Most complaints of this nature occur during the summer months, when windows are left open for ventilation, and people use their gardens more, and at night-time, when background noise levels fall and entertainment noise can be more noticeable and cause disturbance.

Ways of limiting this type of noise

  • Install sound insulation materials to control the transmission of impact or airborne noise, for example to windows, roofs, ceilings and doors;
  • Keep windows closed at all times, particularly while music is played;
  • Keep doors closed as much as possible. These should be close-fitting and constructed from dense, heavy materials. A double doorway system with intervening lobby is best;
  • Mechanical ventilation systems (air conditioning) should be fitted to ensure that sufficient air movement occurs, thus preventing the need for doors and windows to be opened. Ventilation outlets should be fitted with acoustic louvres or baffles;
  • The premises manager (not the DJ) should be in control of sound levels;
  • Check the noise level during the evening. From time to time go outside to check the noise levels. The volume should decrease substantially after midnight at weekends, and earlier during the week. It should continue to get quieter from then on. If you have been in a room with loud music you may not hear as well as usual, so give your ears time to adjust or make allowances when you're checking;
  • Provide notices requesting the cooperation of patrons, particularly when leaving the premises, to ensure noise nuisance is eliminated;
  • Employ experienced and trained door people to restrict entry at certain times and to control noisy patrons;
  • Ensure deliveries are not made at night-time or early in the morning;
  • Be aware that premises with beer gardens and play areas may cause noise nuisance if residential premises are nearby. This may be worse in summer months;
  • Doors leading onto any beer garden or play area should be kept closed, in order to contain the noise. Access to these areas should be restricted, particularly at night, to ensure noise is controlled;
  • Careful consideration should be given to the location of smoking areas and those using them should be considerate to neighbours.

Key points to remember

  • Loudspeakers - these should not be fixed to, or even close to, party walls;
  • Vibration - try to insulate the speakers from the floor or from party walls. This will reduce the noise and vibration reaching next door. A purpose-built speaker stand or carpet/underlay will help deaden the sound;
  • Volume - keep the volume as low as possible. As it gets later in the evening, turn it down;
  • Bass beat - be careful about the bass controls and don't have them up too loud;
  • Hours of use - a nuisance can occur at any time but the later in the evening it becomes, the more likely people will be disturbed.