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Licensed premises nuisance

Under the Licensing Act 2003 the prevention of 'public nuisance' is one of the four licensing objectives that have to be achieved by all licensed premises. Public nuisance matters include noise, odour, general disturbance, litter, antisocial behaviour, light pollution and the kind of issues that can affect occupiers near a licensed premises.

'Licensed premises' are not only pubs or clubs but include all those areas where 'licensable activities' take place, such as village and church halls, or even an open field if licensable activities take place there. Please speak to the licensing officer if you need advice on what constitutes such a use.

Preventing public nuisance is an essential part of any business or organisation and can be achieved by creating an environment that controls nuisance by increasing staff awareness and training so that they can assess potential risks and work towards minimising possible disturbances.

You should also be aware that there is a statutory duty to prevent public nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, irrespective of the new licensing regime.

Failure to do so may lead to action being taken by the environmental health department under the above legislation, that is to serve notices requiring works and/or take legal proceedings.

What do we expect licensed premises to do?

The following are the issues, which we will be looking for licensed premises to have addressed where applicable.

  • Amplified and non-amplified music, singing and speech
  • Patrons arriving and leaving the premises, including provision of public transport
  • Car parks and other outside areas
  • Delivery and collection vehicles
  • Plant and machinery
  • Gardens, including any plans for artificial lighting
  • Odour
  • Litter

It is unlikely that any one licensed premises will need to address all of the issues - maybe only one or two will be relevant - but careful consideration is good practice as it will reduce the chances of any formal action being taken under the Environmental Protection Act or having the premises licence called back to review.

Noise control management

Noise control measures and systems for monitoring and reviewing them vary according to what is practical for the size of the business and the nature of the noise source.

The level of noise which is acceptable will vary depending on the time of the day, the nature of the activity, and the prevailing background noise in the area. For example, the use of the beer garden could be acceptable at lunchtime but may not be acceptable late at night when background noise levels tend to be lower and local residents are likely to be asleep.

Loud music can be particularly problematic at night, as low frequency noise (bass) can often be heard some distance from the noise source.

It is important to remember matters such as:

  • Nature of noise in or on the property
  • Noise heard at the perimeter of the property
  • Proximity of noise-sensitive dwellings
  • History of any noise complaints from neighbours or local authorities
  • All other noise generated in the area from other sources


As well as appropriate noise control measures, licensees may be expected to put in place monitoring arrangements and keep records of this monitoring in a log book. Monitoring can range from simply listening to establish whether a noise is intrusive through to a full acoustic assessment using competent consultants taking detailed measurements.

Listening checks

It is good practice to undertake perimeter listening checks on a regular basis if the premises are in a residential area. Remember the hearing of someone who has been inside the building may have been affected by raised noise levels making the noise outside seem quieter.

Noise issues management policy

Companies should consider implementing a noise issues management policy at corporate level. This should include:

  • Internal communications, logging and responding to complaints within time limits
  • General advice on noise controls with useful details of advisers and suppliers
  • Provision of monitoring systems to demonstrate compliance
  • Training for appropriate staff

Further help and information

The Essex Environmental Protection Study Group has produced Licensed Premises: Public Notice Control, Environmental Health Guidance for Licensees. This has been produced to help licensees and those applying for licences on the management of noise from their premises and can be viewed in the download area.

If you require more information, please contact us.

For licensing enquiries please telephone 01621 854477 to register your enquiry.

To speak to or make an appointment to see a licensing officer please telephone 01245 606727 or email