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Resident complaints hold the potential to significantly impact establishments, particularly if they undergo official scrutiny and escalation by authorities.

This process can result in potential evaluations, abatement notices, or even rejection of your application. Therefore, it is imperative for operators to adopt a proactive approach when dealing with resident concerns.

The principal issue raised by residents overall tends to be in relation to excessive noise levels, and with the deregulation of regulated entertainment, more premises are diversifying and maximising the use of any internal/external space to make themselves more attractive to customers. Although premises utilising this deregulation can provide a lucrative new revenue stream, it can come with consequences if the premises is not adequately prepared.

Under the Licensing Act 2003, licence holders are required to prevent public nuisance, therefore, although sites can benefit from the deregulation of regulated entertainment, it does not prevent them from upholding this duty. Public nuisance is not defined within the Licensing Act; however, it retains its broad common law meaning – “an unlawful act or omission which endangers or interferes with the lives, comfort, property, or common rights of the general public”.

While public nuisance remains the predominant concern voiced by residents, it is essential to recognise that it is not the sole issue. Additional complaints frequently involve instances of crime and disorder, primarily related to intoxicated patrons wandering the streets and contributing to problems such as property vandalism, indecent behaviour, and altercations.

To enhance the success of your establishment and to pre-empt potential enforcement actions or objections during application submissions, it is worth taking into consideration the following tips:

Know your neighbours

Developing a rapport with your neighbours establishes a connection that transforms you from an anonymous operator into a relatable individual with who they can engage with.

Open line of communication

Maintaining an open line of communication is vital. It offers residents a direct channel to contact the establishment and express their concerns, eliminating the need for them to involve local authorities.

Listen & implement

The mutual goal is to create a harmonious and friendly environment for both you and the residents. Therefore, it is crucial to address residents’ concerns and explore feasible solutions to mitigate any issues that arise.


Preferably, before submitting a potentially contentious variation application or hosting a significant event that might result in noise or disruptions, it is advisable to provide advance notice to local residents. Initiating this communication demonstrates consideration and reinforces the thoughtfully cultivated relationship.

This approach also gives residents the chance to make alternative arrangements for significant event days and provides you with an opportunity to address concerns before submitting an application. This proactive step can facilitate finding compromises rather than resorting to a formal hearing process.

Local Pubwatch

Pubwatch schemes are local, independent groups of individuals working within licensed premises. They actively participate in safety and alcohol awareness campaigns, with the overarching goal of addressing and deterring anti-social behaviour and criminal activities. These initiatives not only strive to cultivate safe environments for customers to enjoy responsible drinking but also seek to establish secure working conditions for staff members, in addition to playing a pivotal role in enhancing communication and facilitating the exchange of information among licensees.

Participating in Pubwatch schemes is particularly advantageous for maintaining positive relations with neighbours. By being part of such initiatives, licensed establishments demonstrate their commitment to creating a safe and welcoming community.

Licence conditions

While it might appear obvious, it is imperative to consistently adhere to all the conditions outlined in your premises licence. These conditions are often included for specific purposes and violating them constitutes an offence under your licensing agreement.

Keep a log

We always recommend that premises maintain a comprehensive record of every complaint received, with a special emphasis on those lodged by residents. Regularly, whether on a weekly or monthly basis, these logs can be reviewed to identify recurring concerns. This review process facilitates the identification of opportunities for permanent enhancements that can mitigate complaints and prevent issues from escalating. These complaint logs also serve as valuable resources that can be provided to authorities when required.

Boundary checks

Conducting boundary checks serves as an effective method to assess noise levels, retrieve any glasses that might have been taken outside by customers, and ensure overall orderliness. Keeping a log of these boundary checks is advisable to maintain an organised record of these assessments.

Be open-minded

View complaints as opportunities for investigation and action, rather than negatives. Resident concerns offer a chance to validate and address issues. These grievances don’t criticise your establishment’s management; they represent the perspective of those providing feedback. Amid maintaining a well-run operation, dismissing complaints as stemming from neighbouring establishments might be tempting. However, it is advised to investigate first and remain open to the possibility that your premises could be involved.

If you are contemplating a change or have encountered complaints from neighbours, we suggest seeking guidance from a specialised licensing solicitor. Our expertise can offer valuable insights and assistance in navigating such matters.

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting with one of our legal experts.


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