Live music and nuisance – the mixed development dilemma

Val Weedon, who received an MBE for her work as a noise campaigner is also a music promoter. Val considers recent decisions in managing live music venues near homes.

When the relaxation to licensing regulations for live music events was introduced last year with the introduction of the Live Music Act 2012, concerns were raised about a possible increase in complaints. I found myself in a bit of a dilemma, empathising with live music venues and also having sympathy for residents who may have to endure more noise as a result of any increase in live music activities.

In 2007 I gave up active noise campaigning to return to my passion of music, helping to promote bands and putting on live music events. Fortunately the basement club I used to run my events although in the heart of London, is surrounded mostly by shops and offices, with very little chance of encountering noise complaints from residents.
As someone who was badly affected following a noise problem, I do not hesitate in saying that venues have some responsibility to protect residents from the impact of noise nuisance that live music may cause. Many have already done that and operate quite happily within a mixed development, with very few problems or any formal complaints being made against them.

Alongside this of course, I feel that anyone moving into a mixed development of leisure and residential accommodation should be made aware of likely noise problems and how it could affect them. However, what people may not anticipate is the potential problems with change of use for some premises. The relaxation of regulations means that, some smaller venues holding less than 200 people, like wine bars and restaurants, may want to add live music to their menu as a means of attracting extra custom. In those situations I feel residents have the right to be protected, should be given adequate warning and should be able complain if any noise problems arise.

My concerns were heightened recently when I read about the Ministry of Sound, an established music venue in central London, that had reached an agreement with the developers of a planned 41 storey tower close to the venue. Anticipating an increase in complaints about noise, the Ministry of Sound objected to planning consent. But following discussions both sides came to an agreement with the developers promising to incorporate high levels of noise protection and getting residents to sign away their rights to complain ‘through a specific reference in their deeds’. Whilst both sides and the council are seeing this as a huge victory and a possible template for future mixed developments, this is unique case and it would be dangerous to apply the same approach to all mixed developments in the future.

A more cautious approach would be music to my ears.

Noise Action Week offers noise professionals an opportunity to promote a responsible approach to noise management to venues and promoters.

Val Weedon MBE
Honorary President UK Noise Association/Noise Tzar, Noisedirect
Music Promoter: Galaxy Entertainments

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