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Noise complaints have been a growing issue over the past few years, with them being exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic with residents having experienced periods of lower noise levels due to closures. However, with the night-time economy coming back into full fruition, it is important that operators take a proactive approach when it comes to offering regulated entertainment.

In recent months, we have seen established and beloved venues being threatened with closure due to noise complaints that have been raised, with even long-standing venues like ‘Night and Day’ in Manchester being affected. Therefore, it is imperative that the correct measures are taken when offering regulated entertainment and prompt action is taken if a complaint arises.

With the deregulation of regulated entertainment, more and more premises are diversifying and maximising the use of any internal/external space to make themselves more attractive to customers. We have seen a large increase in the repurposing of external areas, especially as we head into the lighter and warmer months.

Under the Licensing Act, licence holders are required to prevent public nuisance, therefore, the issues normally come when neighbouring properties complain of loud music or light pollution. Public nuisance is not defined within the Licensing Act; however, it retains its broad common law meaning.

When it comes to providing regulated entertainment, preparation and forward planning is key. Below are a few preparatory steps that can be taken in respect of your neighbours and to limit the chance of receiving a complaint.

Preparing for regulated entertainment

  • Speak to your neighbours and keep them notified of any events. It is important to keep a good working relationship with them.
  • Stand outside the nearest noise-sensitive property and see whether any lyrics or music can be heard.
  • Ensure that you have a complaints log at the premises in case someone does want to lodge a complaint.
  • If you are having heavy music, then you may want to consider a noise limiter.
  • Try to point any speakers away from the neighbouring properties.
  • Conduct regular checks on the boundary of the premises during the regulated entertainment to ensure noise levels are suitable.

If a complaint has been lodged

  • Engagement is key. Ensure that you reach out to your neighbours and local licensing and environmental health officers to try and work with them to resolve the issue raised.
  • Ensure that you get full details of the complaint so that you can investigate the claims further and confirm that the complaint does actually relate to your premises.
  • Instruct an acoustic consultant to assess potential noise breakouts, they will then be able to provide advice on possible noise attenuation measures.
  • If you are not able to resolve the complaint, then it would be best advised to contact a specialist licensing solicitor who can provide further assistance and advice.

Both Licensing and the Environment Health team are likely to investigate noise complaints. If the complaints are substantiated and the EHO deems there is a nuisance being caused, they have the power to issue you with a noise abatement notice, which could lead to prosecution and an unlimited fine. In addition to that, your premises licence could be at risk if it is taken to review, as this could lead to reduced hours or, in more serious cases, revocation of the licence.

Therefore, be proactive, engage and seek advice at the earliest opportunity.

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 one of our legal experts.


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