The council has a legal duty to investigate complaints of statutory nuisances caused by excessive noise. We will investigate noise complaints relating to both domestic and commercial premises, some of the most common being:
- the playing of loud music or loud televisions
- barking dogs
- noise from shouting/raised voices
- noise from pubs, clubs or events
It may be helpful if you can approach the person or business responsible and explain the situation as they may not realise that they are causing you a problem. However, this informal approach may not always work, or you may not feel comfortable in speaking to the person directly in such cases a complaint can be made to the council's Environmental Health Service.
Unfortunately because nuisance law requires us to determine the impact of the noise upon an individual, we are unable to investigate anonymous complaints. Any anonymous complaints will be noted but not acted upon.
Report a noise problem
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Contacting the council
When you contact the council a member of the team will discuss the case with you and what we can do to help. We offer a confidential service and do not say who has made the complaint. A letter will then be sent to the noise maker advising them of the complaint and ask them to take action to reduce the noise. In most cases this can resolve the situation.
You will be asked to complete diary sheets detailing the times, date and duration of the noise. This is important because it shows the noise can be heard and that it is a significant noise problem affecting the use and enjoyment of your property. Please keep in touch with the team and update us on the situation. We are unable to keep sending out repeat letters and so it's essential that you return your diaries for the case to be progressed.
Noise nuisance can happen at any time of day or night and you can use the Noise App to help submit samples of the noise directly to us. We then use this information and your diary sheets to quickly decide on the next course of action.
You must submit a report to us first, then we will advise you on the next steps:
What happens next?
If the council decides someone is causing a noise nuisance, an abatement notice will be served requiring the person responsible to stop the nuisance or face further legal action. If someone breaches a notice they can prosecuted and if found guilty, receive a substantial fine.
This happens in a small number of cases and during the course of the investigation all attempts will be made to try and resolve the complaint informally.
Outdoor area considerations for COVID-19
From the 4 July 2020 the Government confirmed that a greater number of non-essential businesses can reopen provided that they can comply with the COVID secure guidelines. Premises that are re-opening include pubs, restaurants, hotels, cinemas, theatres and music halls and hairdressers. A link to the full government guidance is provided here:
COVID secure means that licensed venues will need to implement a number of measures including the following:
- Services will be limited to table service only, this includes pubs;
- Requirement to limit staff and customers numbers on site;
- Requirement to collect contact details for all customers to assist with test and trace.
Re-opening of such premises may result in the increased use of outdoor areas in order for the venues to make the most of available space. If not managed correctly this has the potential to lead to complaints from neighbours who have just experienced three months of relative silence.
Everyone recognises these are difficult times and that business will want to adapt to the new rules in order to open and remain viable. Conversations should be had between businesses and their neighbours as soon as possible to discuss how this can be done sensitively so as not to cause unreasonable levels of nuisance.
Steps should be taken to ensure that everything possible is done to mitigate levels of noise from outside areas especially later into the evening. However all parties must understand this may be a process of trial and error in order to get the best set up to suit everyone.
In addition the guidance sets out how such venues are to comply with health and safety and licensing requirements to ensure safe operation. These include:
- Venues should not permit live performances of music, comedy or drama.
- Recorded music is permitted as is the use of TVs but the volume of these has to be carefully considered and should be background only. Volumes should not be at a level that would cause people to raise their voices (to prevent aerosol transmission).
- Entertainment that encourages people to sing, chant or dance shall not be permitted. This is to prevent aerosol transmission and to ensure social distancing.
- Internal soft play children’s equipment to remain closed.
- Due to capacity limits that will be necessary to promote social distancing, operators will need to consider how entry to the premises is to be managed. This could be done through time slots or having someone on the door. Where ques or waiting areas are formed business owners will need to ensure not only that those in the que are socially distanced but also that queuing is orderly and does not give neighbours cause to complain.
Where problems start to emerge we would encourage all parties to speak to one another, find out what is working and what isn’t, come to an agreed way of working, trial it and review it.
If all else fails, don’t fall out, contact us and we will work with both/all parties to identify potential solutions that might resolve the issue.
Contact the Environmental Health Team:
Download one of our advice leaflets: