With the fair weather fast approaching, and the possibility of doors and windows being left open to allow for better ventilation, your thoughts should turn to ensuring any noise from within your premises does not cause any disturbance to neighbouring properties.
Most live music, which takes place in an area licensed for the sale of alcohol or in a work place (which would include a beer garden), and recorded music which takes place in an area licensed for the sale of alcohol, is no longer a licensable activity under the Licensing Act. Also, in most cases conditions imposed on your licence which seek to regulate such entertainment no longer apply in those circumstances.
Nevertheless, here are some things you should still consider:
- Consider the conditions on your Premises Licence and why they may have been imposed in the first place, particularly if they were imposed at a hearing, and the time before you owned the premises. Obtain some background information if there are any such conditions as to why they were imposed from your local Licensing Authority, or your Environmental Health Officer.
- Simply because the music is not a licensable activity does not absolve an operator from any responsibility under noise legislation and, therefore, reasonable steps must be undertaken to ensure neighbouring properties are not disturbed.
- Walk around your premises when any entertainment is being provided, and hear for yourself whether or not this is likely to be disturbing any neighbouring properties.
- Consider whether it would be sensible to fit self-closing devices on doors.
- If windows are being opened by customers, and you cannot afford or cannot install air conditioning, then consider putting locks on them.
- If costs will permit, and you have noise escape from a single entry door, is it possible, both financially and in terms of planning, to construct a lobby?
- If noise problems simply continue to persist despite your best efforts to keep the music down or the doors and windows closed, what are the practicalities of your installing a noise limiter, which could be locked down and only changed by management rather than visiting bands? However, there are of course some musical instruments which you cannot route through a noise limiter.
- Consider the positioning of speakers. Is it feasible to move the speakers, and the area where customers may dance, and ensure that the speakers are pointing away from residential properties?
- Continue to monitor the situation if you have had complaints, or still believe that the music is audible close to residential premises, by continuing to undertake your own noise checks, and make sure you record these in a log to show to your Licensing Officer and Environmental Health Officer that you have undertaken what due diligence you can. You could go as far as purchasing a noise monitor, but to use these properly requires the appropriate training.