Noise code for licensed premises

The Noise Code for Licensed Premises is a voluntary code seeking to establish a standard of excellence in the noise management of participating licensed premises through a commitment to follow three key principles: the best practice guide, complaint management and working in partnership.

The Noise Code benefits the licensing trade through improving profits and legal compliance, and maintaining community reputation in the community. For the local community, it provides reassurance for those living close to licensed premises, and supports clear complaint management.

Interested in joining the Noise Code?  Review the three key principles, and contact us at

Best practice guide

The licensed trade is an integral part of a dynamic local community. However, there are various noise challenges to consider, and businesses have a legal responsibility to balance their needs with the local community's right to not be unduly disturbed.

This can be complex and can feel like just another burden of running a business. To assist you to adopt best practice and make the process easier, follow our four-point guide: stay informed, plan, manage and review.

Stay informed

Keeping informed about noise is the first step to ensuring your business achieves the right balance between your needs and those of your local community.

You should be aware of the legal framework for noise, which includes:

  • legislation covering licensing

  • environmental issues

  • anti-social behaviour

  • planning and health & safety.

Noise can be a problem at any time of day, but the background noise level varies. This can mean, for instance, that noise late at night is more obvious to people living close by. Also be aware that bass frequencies travel further.

 Acceptable operating noise levels will be unique to each business and depend on factors including:

  • location

  • type of business

  • building structures

The law requires that your approach to controlling and managing noise is reasonable and proportionate. You decision making should consider good practice guidance from the Institute of Acoustics, as well as the relevant legislation.

See our guide for suggestions about sources of noise and possible solutions.

You can get further information and advice from the British Beer and Pub Association's guidance on noise control.


By considering noise early, you will be better able to plan and avoid potential noise problems, saving you money, time and effort.

Think about noise when you plan changes to your building structure, hold events (especially outside) or develop the business in a new direction.

Always remember to consider:

  • your existing planning permission, and planning applications

  • your premises licence

  • other legal requirements

  • doing a noise impact assessment

  • setting up a noise management plan

  • keeping the local community onside

  • noise from construction


Key aspects of managing noise are:

  • staff training

  • operating according to legal requirements

  • responding to complaints

  • perimeter checks or controls, which can range from staff listening to using specialised metering equipment.


The licensing industry is constantly developing to meet the changing aspirations of its customers. It is important to undertake ongoing noise reviews:

  • periodically

  • after introducing new equipment or controls

  • following a complaint

  • after identifying inadequate existing controls.

Complaint management

Excellence in noise complaint management is the second key principle of the Noise Code.

By following the best practice guide, your business is less likely to receive a complaint. However, if you do receive a noise complaint, you are encouraged to act on feedback from the local community in a positive and professional manner.

Larger businesses may already have procedures in place that they wish their staff to follow when dealing with complaints. This complaint guide is not intended to replace this, but to strengthen any procedure if necessary.

General points to consider:

  • Noise can be an emotive subject. Try to keep calm and move away from confrontational approaches.

  • Take responsibility for the complaint.

  • Carry out your own investigation.

  • Keep response times reasonable and proportionate.

  • Have a simple but written procedure to guide your staff.

Working in partnership

The third key principle of the Noise Code for Licensed Premises is a commitment to working with partner agencies on matters of noise control and management. Noise is a complex area and there are a number of agencies that can help your business:

  • Elmbridge Borough Council: the noise team and planning team work together, and can provide information, advice and help.

  • Surrey Police: the Council and the police work in partnership on the more anti-social aspects of noise.

  • Pubwatch: a crime prevention scheme, organised and run by licensees in the community to help reduce alcohol-related crimes. Find out more about the Pubwatch scheme

  • Mediation: community mediation with Elmbridge is provided by Mediation Surrey

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