A Brighton pub famous for its live music has been served a noise abatement order after complaints from neighbours about music and outside noise.
The Greys in Southover Street has a long history of attracting bands from all over the world to perform there, particularly from the blues and folk scene, with gigs never finishing later than 11pm.
However, following a change of landlord in 2014, the pub shifted from just hosting live music to putting on more DJ nights, with finishing times as late as 1am.
On 19 March, the first of two complaints was made to Brighton and Hove City Council’s noise enforcement team contacted the pub and started an investigation.
A notice was issued last Wednesday, 8 June, requiring the pub to reduce the noise. It is now looking at reducing the number of live music nights, changing the type of acts, and building a porch.
A three-day festival of acoustic anarcho folk punk held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday didn’t result in any complaints being made.
A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “Two complaints were made in relation to noise from people outside the building, and noise from live and recorded music. One complaint was made from a resident in Southover Street, the other from a resident in Washington Street.
“Evidence gathered included noise diary sheets and three calls to our out of hours noise patrol service. No noise recorders were used.
“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. Possible construction of a door lobby was also discussed and explored, amongst other things.
“Measures to manage noise have already been put in place and no complaints were received this weekend.
“The situation is being monitored and we are continuing to work with the operator of the business and the brewery; there is a meeting this week with the brewery and operator.”
If the pub cannot reduce the noise, it could face fines, as happened to the pub opposite, The Geese, on three occasions from 2009 to 2011.
Brighton and Hove News has made several attempts to reach the pub landlord for comment, but has not yet received a response.
However, former landlord Chris Taylor, now chair of the Hanover and Elm Grove local action team, said he was sorry to hear his former pub had fallen foul of noise regulations.
He said: “Neighbours can be an issue especially if a pub is stretching the limits of its licence.
“I am of the opinion that when someone moves into a house/flat they should check whether there are any buildings nearby that have the potential to cause problems. If so, bear that in mind and recognise that that 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.
“I’ve never had much truck with young people who move into an area for the great pubs and social life, then after a few years settle down, have children and then discover that they have a pub next door which sometimes has music and customers who can sometimes get a bit noisy after a few drinks. Of course – they have to smoke outside these days, too.
“That is probably the same pub that was the centre of their social life a few months before.
But it still doesn’t give licensees the licence to forget about their neighbours. If that is what is happening here then I can’t agree with it.”
Claire Jones-Hughes, who lived opposite the pub until a few years ago, said she had never had any issues with noise when she was living there. She said: “When we lived next to The Greys with a newborn baby, we never had any issues.
“Events were always on Mondays and ended around 11pm. They were usually folk, blues, country but not particularly unplugged as such.
“Landlords, Chris and Gill went to great lengths to ensure the events were well managed, entertaining and respectful of the neighbourhood in my view. The events were often sold out!
“They’ve had ex-Beach Boys collaborators, ex-members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and big names from the UK and US folk and blues scene – they ran successful events without bothering the neighbours.”
The effect of noise abatement orders on Brighton’s live music scene was discussed at a special summit in Brighton in April where landlords, bands and promoters spoke of the chilling effect they have on venues.
However, council officers said that within the existing legislative framework, there was little room for change and that the council had a duty to balance the needs of residents with venues.
One of the main issues venues had was that there is no defined decibel limit they can keep within, as statutory noise nuisance is assessed on the character, duration and frequency of the noise and how it affects a person in their home.
Where evidence collected determines the noise to be a statutory noise nuisance the council has a statutory duty to serve a noise abatement notice.