Longstanding Brighton music venue served with noise abatement order

Posted On 15 Jun 2016 at 4:30 pm

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 pub. Image from Google Streetview
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.

  1. elem Reply

    Hilarious, no doubt the complaints are from New residents in the area, and isn’t the music here mostly folk ie low amp/sound? Crikey! this is happening ALL Over Brighton and soon they’ll be not one live venue apart from the concorde (and how long will that take to be put out of business what with the seafront area falling apart around it!) Brighton city council should take a stand with pubs and bar venues and support theior exitence as they majke Brighton whta it is, a fun, engaging, educating (culturally!) place to live..

    • Kevin Kinsella Reply

      Shifting from one night of Acoustic finishing at 11pm to multiple nights of Amped finishing at 1am isn’t going to win friends and has provoked the response that behaviour deserves!

  2. Scott Reply

    I’m sure it said that the venue had gone from 11pm finishes of blues and folk to 1am finishes of electronic music. I would be pretty annoyed at that as a long term resident.i think this is just someone overstepping the mark.

  3. Hanover Resident Reply

    This is so wrong. The pub has been there since 1854 and been a music venue for over 30 years. As a local resident, I can say the pub rarely, if ever plays electronic music, the landlord and manager respect the local community which is clearly evident if you ever go in there and work extremely hard to control the noise both inside and out. The pub is full of older people, mainly regulars and is about as far from a rave as you could get. I work nights, so can I complain about kids in the playground of the local school or a bottle bank being emptied? It’s common knowledge that complaints are suddenly being made and who’s allegedly doing it, apparently a new neighbour that’s moved in recently, but as I’ve often said to people in the pub, it’s not guaranteed and might just be coincidence. People have walked down Southover street from top top bottom, kicking cans and smashing bottles, how are the landlord and management of the Greys supposed to control this?
    I bet they get the blame. If you don’t like the smell of chip fat, don’t move next to a chip shop, same rule for noise. I’m sympathetic to noise, but from seeing how the pub operates as a customer, I’d urge the council to examine their investigation closely with regard to witnesses etc. 2 complaints..?? There are about 30 residents in close proximity, most of whom I know, who have lived without issue for many many years, with young children, without any noise issues. It makes me wonder sometimes, if I want to close a pub down, then buy it for low (poison chalice) value, do I I just need to team up with one of my neighbours and make a complaint to the council..? Apparently it’s that easy..
    Sorry for the rant, but the Greys is an amazing friendly pub, where many local friendships have been forged. Can it really be closed down by 1 or 2 complaints? If you read this Brighton Council, you bet I’ll be forwarding this to Caroline Lucas, who I believe will take note from many Hanover Residents.This is the “fun Police ” at its best, ticking boxes and destroying local business. Hope you are proud.

  4. Barry Charity Reply

    I think its shocking, the noise keeps me, my children and my pets awake at night, and we live in peacehaven – how much longer do we have to tolerate this blatant abuse of human rights.

  5. Local resident Reply

    Firstly this is a pub not a music venue, I have lived near the Greys for 15 years. It has done live music but not to the extent it does now. The operators are the new ones to that area and since they took over some 1.5 yrs ago the noise has become an issue. Myself and other residents have been complaining for over a year directly to the operators and nothing has been done. I think one noisey night a week could be tolerated but sometimes 6 nights a week of live music is too much. It took various complaints just to get them to close the windows when live music was on. They have no sound proofing which is a requirement of most actual music venues. I live nearer a busier pub than this who seem to take the nessessary steps to keep the noise to a minimum but I can hear the Greys over that. I think we all understand there’s noise that goes along with running any business but as a business owner it is your responsibility to consider other people, especially in a residential area. I have never complained to the council about this but I know of at least three people who have and to be honest I undterstad why.

  6. Mr S.lave Reply

    i am so angry, and so is my wife! and the noise from this public house keeps my children; juniper, tinkerbell and marmalade, up all night and it is soooooo difficult to get my delicate little darlings to sleep again what with the old men with fingers in their ears singing folderol doo day music, close it down now and turn it into a recylcled food venue or centre for crafts people to knit/sew/macrame yoghurt pot tops.

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