Brighton music venue served with noise abatement order

A pub in Brighton may need to start looking into sound reduction methods - like acoustic insulation - after receiving a noise abatement order.

The Greys in Southover Street is famous for its live music and over the years it has played host to bands from around the world - mostly from the blues and folk scene.

Although gigs never finish later than 11pm, the pub has also added DJ nights to its schedule and these often don't finish until 1am. The move has prompted local residents to make noise complaints and back in March the Brighton and Hove City Council's noise enforcement team began an investigation.

A spokeswoman for the Council explained that evidence gathered during the investigation included noise diary sheets and calls to an out-of-hours noise patrol service. Noise recorders were not used.

Earlier this month, a notice was issued, which required the pub to reduce noise levels. The venue is now looking at options to reduce the amount of sound coming from the bar, while also enabling them to continue providing entertainment to their customers.

"The notice did not require specific works, but there were extensive conversations with the operator on ways to mitigate the noise. This included management of outdoor areas, possible use of noise limiting devices, also a review of the music programme including the frequency of performances and the character of the music," the council spokeswoman explained, adding that other measures discussed included the construction of a door lobby.

She also noted that some measures to manage noise have already been put in place and that no complaints were received after a gig that weekend.

"The situation is being monitored and we are continuing to work with the operator of the business and the brewery," she said.

The pub will need to find ways to reduce its noise in order to prevent fines. A neighbouring pub, The Geese, has had to pay penalties three times in the past.

While every situation is different, many similar venues could improve their relationships with residential neighbours by making sure their acoustic insulation is up to scratch, as it can help to stop noise spreading beyond the walls of the pub.

Brighton and Hove News spoke with Chris Taylor, the former landlord of the Greys and current chair of the Hanover and Elm Grove local action team. He said that it was an unfortunate situation.

"Neighbours can be an issue, especially if a pub is stretching the limits of its license," he explained.

Mr Taylor believes that when people move into houses and flats, they should check whether there are any buildings nearby that could cause problems.

"If so, bear that in mind and recognise that the pub or whatever has been there for many years and is probably one of the reasons why you want to move there in the first place," he said.

While many pub landlords might agree with this sentiment, Mr Taylor also notes that licensees shouldn't forget about their neighbours.

Back in April, a special summit was held in Brighton to discuss the effects of noise abatement orders on the city's live music scene. At the time, landlords, bands and promoters all indicated their concern about how the new regulations were impacting them.

One particular concern is that there is no defined decibel limit for them to keep within. Statuory noise nuisance is assessed based on the character, duration and frequency of the noise and how it is affecting people in their homes. For people in the music industry, this can be problematic because they can't predict these things and there is no range for them to aim for.