Brighton’s Freebutt faces closure

July 2010

Live events industry

CMU Daily reports that Brighton venue The Freebutt is facing closure after being served with a noise abatement notice by the Environmental Health Department of Brighton & Hove Council, ordering the venue to “cease causing a public audio nuisance” earlier this year. The Freebutt was served with the notice in February this year after the council received just one complaint, from a neighbouring resident, and was given until the 10th May to remedy the problem. Steps were made to do so, but the complainant refused venue staff and audio consultants access to their property, meaning a full diagnosis could not be carried out. Nevertheless, the complaints apparently ceased after this work was carried out, but council officials decided to visit the original property suffering from sound leakage from the venue on 29th April, at which point it was decided that unwanted noise could still be heard. The Freebutt was then told that if further sound proofing work was not carried out by 10 May, it would have to cease putting on live music at its current volume, meaning a drop in the maximum level allowed by the venue’s volume limiter.

The venue’s owners argue that this would make it impossible for them to put on live music at all. Various experiments have since been carried out, but neither the venue, the council or audio consultants brought in on either side have been able to diagnose the problem, largely due to the complainant now refusing access to their property to anyone involved with the case, including council staff. With no resolution forthcoming it now looks as though the venue may be forced to close permanently. One of The Freebutt’s four co-owners, Tom Denney told CMU: “The Freebutt is without a doubt a Brighton institution, having played host to some of the most important local, national and international acts of the past two decades. The Freebutt puts on upwards of 800 local musicians every year, giving them the opportunity to perform for an increasingly growing local community of music lovers, as well as putting on international touring artists and bringing in tourism trade from places as far away as Israel”.
Another of the co-owners said “What we want is the opportunity for not only a reasonable period of time in which to carry out any necessary work but also the cooperation of both Environmental Health Department and the complainants in helping establish where exactly the sound bleed problem is originating from. Without some educated analysis of the frequencies bleeding and the structure of both buildings there is absolutely no way that we will ever be able to eradicate this sound issue and will thus force the closure of a historic Brighton music venue and loss of a huge number of music industry jobs”.

A petition to save The Freebutt has now been launched online. Sign it at

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