Reducing the noise impact of outdoor socialising

We look at how we can keep the sounds of summer fun at a reasonable volume as we ease out of lockdown. Much of our socialising is still outdoors and this means more noise outside. This noise can be disturbing and annoying for people who live and work near venues and events.

Restrictions during the last year meant changes to the way we enjoy food, drink and events. Our social lives largely moved outside to reduce transmission of Covid -19.

Pavement pubs and cafes

To compensate for closure of pubs, cafes and restaurants, licenses were eased to allow food businesses to operate take away and delivery services. Then, outdoor hospitality opening and venues needing more space to keep social distancing. In England no planning permission is currently required for pubs or restaurants to set up temporary covered outdoor areas on their premises, and similar measures are in place across the UK. For businesses providing food and drink – including cafes, bars, shops with deli counters, entertainment venues – it has been made quicker and cheaper to apply for a license to place seating on pavements. This currently applies until September 2021.

Councils concerned about potential noise

With larger groups allowed to gather outdoors, and more outdoor socialising, local authorities are raising concerns about potentially increasing noise problems as the summer (we hope) hots up. While many people are eager to meet up with friends for food, dring akdn entertainment, others have got used to the reduced noise levels during lockdowns.

The March edition of Noise Bulletin reported Charnwood BC commenting that “Moving people outside due to Covid restrictions, even at established premises, has the potential to impact on immediate neighbours and premises must consider the measures to try to avoid unnecessary disturbance and conflict.”

Similarly Nuneaton and Bedworth Council public protection said “We want everyone to enjoy the new freedoms, however patrons of pubs and restaurants are encouraged to act responsibly and be mindful of nearby residents by keeping noise to sensible levels.”

More outdoor events

So far several large annual events and festivals have been cancelled this year. However more outdoor events will be allowed this summer. In England,  the number of days temporary events like car boot sales and markets are allowed to operate on a site is increased from 28 to 56. Motorsports events – likely to have more noise impact – are increased from 28 days to 42.

For all outdoor activities, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of noise complaints – these include:

For business/event organisers

  • Talking to nearby neighbours and any residents association if it is likely noise will increase as a result of outdoor seating or an event
  • Keeping tables and chairs, stalls or noisy activities away from boundaries with homes, and where possible leaving these areas clear for access.
  • If background noise levels are high, its likely people will move closer together to be able to communicate – reducing social distancing – so keep noise levels down.
  • Restrict music outside to a quiet background soundtrack, resisting the temptation to turn it up.
  • Don’t provide live amplified music in external areas near neighbouring homes.
  • Have a procedure in place for taking action if you receive any noise complaints.

For customers:

  • If waiting/queuing outside a venue near people’s homes, keep voices down. If waiting in a vehicle, turn the engine off.
  • Similarly, when leaving venues, avoid lingering outside people’s homes and talking loudly, or playing loud music if in a vehicle, especially later at night….

We hope everyone can enjoy a busy vibrant summer of hospitality and events – without causing a headache for neighbours!

Related Posts

Comments are closed.