The theme of Noise Action Week 2016 is reducing the impact of noise in our 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 are noisier or less tolerant – but whatever the reason persistent exposure to unwanted noise can affect our health and well-being – whether it be through disturbed sleep or the inability to relax at home. The kind of noise that bothers people depends where they live – in rural districts barking dogs can be big problem – in densely populated towns and cities loud parties or noise in the street disturb neighbours, as well as venues like pubs and clubs. Below are some noise themes for you to consider:
Noise and housing
Landlords and housing managers – Short term tenants are less likely to know their neighbours or become part of their communities. This means they can be less considerate of surroundings and neighbours they don’t have the time or motivation to get to know. 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 HMOs.
Students – University cities and towns tend to have neighbourhoods with a large number of shared student accommodation mixed with permanent residents. Problems arise where lifestyles conflict, and young people living in what they percieve to be a ‘student neighbourhood’ forget that 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 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 a balanced communities where pubs, clubs and music venues can survive and thrive, in harmouny 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 existing, 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 gardens might be an ‘outdoor room’ – its an opportuinty to remind people that anything in the garden is overheard by neighbours – whether it be a loud telephone conversation, DIY or gardening wit power tools or 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 – In our larger cities and busiest roads, noise action planning is set to work towards reducing the impact of traffic 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– As part of noise action planning, many large cities will soon be working to identify quiet open spaces (those with a low level of mechanised noise). 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.
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.