HEALTH & SAFETY / LICENSING 
Live events industry 

By Marc P Holmes

The Birmingham Mail has reported a dispute concerning noise levels between the residents of a newly built housing development and a long-standing drinking hole in the traditionally vibrant Irish Quarter of Digbeth. The Spotted Dog public house now finds itself in a neighbourhood being regenerated with new residential buyers and tenants and has been served with a noise abatement order. The case raises interesting issues concerning the regulation of noise emanating from social and live music venues – if less tolerant new neighbours move into close proximity to boisterous neighbours, exactly what should the cost of harmony between the two parties amount to: the death of another live music venue or the daily donning of ear muffs for those unhappy residents? The answer is hopefully neither, with the soundproofing of new properties the most obvious solution. However, this then raises the critical issue – who is to bear the cost?

In Australia, under the ‘agent of change’ doctrine, residential developers building city centre apartments are obliged by law to soundproof developments themselves: The owner of one live music venue objected to a three-storey apartment block being built in a warehouse shell behind his venue. The Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that although the development could proceed, builders should engage a sound engineer and incorporate soundproofing into the new development. There is no corresponding doctrine in English law – and this area of dispute of course extends beyond music to sports venues and even to public spaces long used for public gatherings. The result is often, as can be seen in the Digbeth case, a divisive dispute between neighbouring residents with complainants currently forced to rely on the terms of the Environment Act. There are also provisions in the Licensing Act 2003 which allow local authorities to take action to prevent ‘public nuisance’. Similar provisions exist in Australia where venues have been penalised after complaints from newly arrived neighbours. As such, the will of a disgruntled minority can lead to the end of social and musical activities enjoyed by others for decades. Of course residents of England and Wales should have the legal right to enjoy their properties free from unreasonable nuisance noise. However, no rights – legal or otherwise – exist in a vacuum, and this particular right should not necessarily extend to end the right of others to enjoy live music. Such a result would seem clearly unfair to most, but there is a flip side to the coin. In the absence of any such noise constituting a clear and actionable health hazard under the Environment Act, it is suggested that buyers such as those in this case would in fact fall foul of the old property law adage of cave emptor, and as one Digbeth resident commented should probably “have done their research better before they moved in”. Of course the ultimate solution for developers is surely to actually replace music venues with new developments – Manchester’s Hacienda apartments development being a great example – but this is a not a particularly attractive scenario for live music fans!

http://www.thestirrer.co.uk/spotted_dog_2709071.html

HEALTH & SAFETY / LICENSING
Live events industry
New neighbours object to live music venue
By Marc P Holmes

The Birmingham Mail has reported a dispute concerning noise levels between the residents of a newly built housing development and a long-standing drinking hole in the traditionally vibrant Irish Quarter of Digbeth. The Spotted Dog public house now finds itself in a neighbourhood being regenerated with new residential buyers and tenants and has been served with a noise abatement order. The case raises interesting issues concerning the regulation of noise emanating from social and live music venues – if less tolerant new neighbours move into close proximity to boisterous neighbours, exactly what should the cost of harmony between the two parties amount to: the death of another live music venue or the daily donning of ear muffs for those unhappy residents? The answer is hopefully neither, with the soundproofing of new properties the most obvious solution. However, this then raises the critical issue – who is to bear the cost?

In Australia, under the ‘agent of change’ doctrine, residential developers building city centre apartments are obliged by law to soundproof developments themselves: The owner of one live music venue objected to a three-storey apartment block being built in a warehouse shell behind his venue. The Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that although the development could proceed, builders should engage a sound engineer and incorporate soundproofing into the new development. There is no corresponding doctrine in English law – and this area of dispute of course extends beyond music to sports venues and even to public spaces long used for public gatherings. The result is often, as can be seen in the Digbeth case, a divisive dispute between neighbouring residents with complainants currently forced to rely on the terms of the Environment Act. There are also provisions in the Licensing Act 2003 which allow local authorities to take action to prevent ‘public nuisance’. Similar provisions exist in Australia where venues have been penalised after complaints from newly arrived neighbours. As such, the will of a disgruntled minority can lead to the end of social and musical activities enjoyed by others for decades. Of course residents of England and Wales should have the legal right to enjoy their properties free from unreasonable nuisance noise. However, no rights – legal or otherwise – exist in a vacuum, and this particular right should not necessarily extend to end the right of others to enjoy live music. Such a result would seem clearly unfair to most, but there is a flip side to the coin. In the absence of any such noise constituting a clear and actionable health hazard under the Environment Act, it is suggested that buyers such as those in this case would in fact fall foul of the old property law adage of cave emptor, and as one Digbeth resident commented should probably “have done their research better before they moved in”. Of course the ultimate solution for developers is surely to actually replace music venues with new developments – Manchester’s Hacienda apartments development being a great example – but this is a not a particularly attractive scenario for live music fans!

http://www.thestirrer.co.uk/spotted_dog_2709071.html