Hoxton’s Courtyard Theatre avoids licence suspension over noise complaints

The council is keeping an eye on Hoxton’s Courtyard Theatre after several residents living above it complained of unbearable levels of noise, from loud thumping bass to a 25-piece orchestra.

Noise pollution officers recommended that all licensable activity be suspended at the theatre in Pitfield Street until sound proofing work is carried out, and a premises licence review was scheduled for today (Thursday).

However the theatre - which has occupied the building for the last five years - is now on track with soundproofing works, and the review has been put on hold.

Housed in a Grade II listed Victorian building, which was originally a library, the theatre gained a premises licence in April 2007 on the basis that a detailed acoustic report was carried out.

The first noise complaint was made just over a year later in July 2008, and a string of noise complaints followed until October 2010.

Council officers who came out to the premises at midnight recorded loud bass music at a level which satisfied a statutory noise nuisance.

Noise complaints resurfaced in February this year, and although a noise abatement notice was served in May, a further four complaints were made about choir practice, power tools and loud music.

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Three residents wrote letters of complaint to the council about noise which began as early as 9am and went on until well past midnight.

“I do not believe that the theatre has ever been genuine in reducing noise in consideration of the residents both in and around the theatre,” wrote one resident, who stated the theatre hadn’t occupied the building when they moved in.

“Earlier this year I asked a singer to please stop rehearsing in the outdoor area as he was singing at the top of his voice, I was rudely told to ‘enjoy the show’, and he continued.

“The sound is so loud that the floors on both the first and second storey of my apartment have vibrated.

“There is a belligerent disrespect for the neighbourhood and our quality of life,” they said.

Tim Gill, artistic director, said they “held their hand up” and the noise complaints in the first few years were justified because they had held temporary events to raise revenue, however more recent complaints had been about things like singing on Saturday afternoons.

“The flats are marketed as luxury flats, and when people are paying that much they don’t expect any kind of noise, which is fair enough,” he said.

“But at the same time we have had complaints that haven’t had anything to do with us.

“We are a cultural venue, we do community and charity work, our intention isn’t to annoy anyone, we have a 15 year lease, it’s hard enough running a venue as it is,” he added.