The theme of Noise Action Week 2017 is reducing the impact of noise in neighbourhoods. Government research published in 2014 showed we are now more bothered by noise than we were ten years ago. It’s not clear whether this is because we’re noisier or less tolerant – but whatever the reason persistent exposure to unwanted noise affects our health and well-being – through disturbed sleep and prevenint us relaxing at home. Sources of noise problems depend where you live – in rural areas barking dogs can be big problem and in more densely populated towns and cities pubs and clubs, parties or noise in the street are most likely to cause annoyance. Below are suggested themes to fit Noise Action Week where you live or work:
Noise and housing
Landlords and housing managers – Short term tenants are less likely to know their neighbours or become part of communities. This means they can be less considerate of surroundings and neighbours. Poor sound insulation and layout of properties also makes noise problems worse – for example where a living room or kitchen is above or next to a neighbours’ bedroom. Landlords and housing managers can use Noise Action Week to talk to tenants about being considerate neighbours. Also housing providers must consider how noise problems can be reduced in properties by a ensuring noisy and quiet rooms don’t adjoin and sound insulation is adequate – especially when developing new homes.
Students – University cities and towns tend to have neighbourhoods where shared student accommodation is mixed with permanent residents. Problems arise where lifestyles conflict, and young people living in what they percieve to be a ‘student neighbourhood’ forget families, people who sleep at night and get up for work and older people are their neighbours. Noise Action Week is a great opportunity to focus local debate around managing noise from student properties, improving community relations and launching or highlighting initiatives. For example, in Brighton and Hove tighter regulation on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) have been progressively introduced to manage noise and other impacts and improve the quality of rented housing. In some cities universities and students’ unions run campaigns – like the Solent University Keep Quiet Campaign – encouraging students to keep the noise down.
Live music venues and pubs – With more flexible licensing hours, and increasingly dense housing development in urban centres, noise disturbance caused by pubs, clubs and music venues is common. Noise Action Week is an opportunity to talk to landlords and customers about achieving balanced communities where pubs, clubs and music venues can survive and thrive, in harmony with residential and other neighbours.
For many areas the main noise issue is general noise from neighbours:
Noise from neigbours
Loud music and parties – Music, house parties and noise from TVs and audio equipment are some of the most commonly complained about domestic noises. Why not use Noise Action Week to promote services or launch new, services aimed at encouraging neighbours to turn it down.
Dogs – Dog barking is another of the most complained about neighbour noises. Local authorities and housing organisations have run very successful initiatives offering advice and support on reducing this problem through appropriate dog care and training. A happy pet is a a quiet pet – and animal stories are always popular with the press.
Noise outdoors – Noise Action Week takes place in spring – when the weather gets warmer and windows are more likely to be open. While your garden might be an ‘outdoor room’, remember it doesn’t have walls. Remind people that anything in the garden is overheard by neighbours – whether it be a loud phone conversation, DIY or gardening with power tools, a party or BBQ.
Alarms – Alarms going off accidentally can be extremely annoying – often waking up an entire neighbourhood. Many local authorities have used Noise Action Week to promote local key holder registration schemes and encourage residents to sign up.
Transport Noise – Noise Action Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of traffic noise and its impact on health, and the role all can play be choosing quieter transport where practical, avoiding aggressive, noisy driving, and choosing quieter vehicles and quieter tyres.
Quiet Areas – Noise Action Week provides an opportunity to get people in your area thinking about local open spaces and where they go to get peace and quiet, and how that peace and quiet can be protected.
Headphones and Hearing – Research shows many people are listening to headphones at high levels and risk hearing damage as a result – whether it be when out and about or to drown out noise in open plan offices. Noise Action Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of the risks of listening too loud.