Reducing noise problems from music venues

Live music venue

Inside a live music venue

Noise problems from music venues remain a regular feature in local and national news. Live music makes a massive contribution to the cultural capital of our towns and cities and should contribute to vibrant and healthy communities. However this should not be at a cost to the health of neighbours if they suffer from regular disruption and disturbance. Changes to planning guidance are proposed that will emphasise the responsibility of developers building near an existing music venue (or any other facility like a sports venue or place of worship, that generates noise) to prevent any noise problems occurring.  However, venues should still work to reduce noise problems occurring.

Hosting a music event

Whether it’s a one off event or you’re a venue that regularly hosts music events, there is plenty you can do to minimise the risk of complaints about noise – as well as improving sound quality for a better experience for performers and audience.

If you’re hosting a big event with amplified music for more than 200 people, you’ll need to apply for a licence and noise conditions will be attached to any licence. If your event is for less than 200 people, you don’t need a licence to host music between 8am and 11 pm. You still need to make sure you don’t cause a noise problem – as any complaints to the local authority  mean you will be investigated. Demonstrating you are taking care to minimise noise will help you in responding if there are any complaints about noise.

Low cost measures to reduce live music and venue noise complaints include:

  • Get to know any neighbours who the venue might affect. Encouraging them to talk to you if they have any issues will enable you to act quickly to try and resolve issues and  reduce the likelihood of formal complaints to the council.
  • If, for example, you are hosting a one off outdoor event, telling neighbours what is happening will reduce the likelihood of complaints
  • For venues, keep doors and windows closed during performances.
  • Look at the location of speakers. If attached to the walls or ceiling noise could be escaping outside through the building.
  • Consider installing noise limiters to keep the volume down.
  • Use the sound check to assess noise levels and set a maximum volume.
  • People leaving venues are often the cause of complaints – remind them to keep the noise down, with signs and door staff.
  • When bands are packing up, make sure they don’t make unnecessary noise, with no engines left running, music playing in vans, singing or shouting.

If noise problems persist, professional advice can help you resolve any problems, and an acoustic consultant will be able to help. The Institute of Acoustics can help you find a consultant in your area.

Disturbance from live music

If you live near a music venue and have a problem with noise, talk to the venue managers first. Making them aware of any problems will allow them to understand any issues affecting you and look into solutions. If problems persist, then complain to your local council who must investigate your complaint. If they find that there is a noise nuisance being caused, they will work with the venue to find a solution to the problem -and in extreme cases can take enforcement action to reduce the noise.

Note: Consultation on National Planning Policy Framework – deadline 10 May 2018

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