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Disturbed by noise in the Square Mile?

Date updated: 18/05/2022

Noise is part of the everyday City of London experience. If you are suffering from excessive noise in the City of London our Noise Services can help with a noise complaint, advice and investigation. It is an inevitable consequence of the density of development, the intensity of activity and the sometimes conflicting needs of different communities in such a small area. However, excessive noise can affect the quality of life and even health of residents and workers, as well as interfere with businesses activity.

The Pollution Control Team will respond to and investigate most complaints of noise or requests for advice including those related to construction sites, street works, bars and clubs, building plant, air conditioning, servicing of commercial premises, audible intruder and vehicle alarms.​

Some works can be undertaken outside the standard hours or during quiet hours with the written prior approval from the Pollution Control Team.

We have developed an interactive map showing all approved out of hours works including times permitted, location and contractor details. If you are being disturbed by noise, we encourage you to check the map first, to see if the works have been approved by one of our environmental health officers. Please note that emergency works may also be undertaken that are not shown on this map.

Where ever possible you should contact and speak to whoever is causing the noise. They may not be aware that they are causing a problem and may subsequently make changes to reduce or stop the noise.

If talking to the person/s concerned does not help, or you feel that you are unable to approach them, you can contact us and we will assess your complaint.

If you make a complaint about noise we will require your help in order to investigate and achieve a resolution. For example, by providing adequate information, keeping records, reporting noise when it occurs and allowing access to your premises.

If you are in the Square Mile and being disturbed by noise happening now or if you would like help or advice:

Call 020 7606 3030 for noise happening now, or for advice, email the Public Protection Team, (please note response to emails is not immediate).

These contact details are for the disturbances in the City of London only.

Check which local authority you need to contact about disturbances in your area.

An ‘out of hours’ noise response service is provided so this service is available 24/7 throughout the year.

Call as soon as the noise problem starts, this gives officers a much better chance of witnessing the noise.

Before contacting us please have ready as much information as possible to assist us:

  • Nature of the noise, times when it occurs and duration
  • How the noise affects you
  • Address of the premises where the noise originated

Noise in the street: if you are experiencing noise related to crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour such as people shouting in the street, this is likely in the first place to be a police matter, and you should call City of London Police on 101 or report it online.

City of London managed property: if the noise is originating from a City managed residential property, you should initially contact the estate manager who will discuss the noise problem with you first and then refer it to us, if appropriate.​

Officers will usually respond to your complaint or request for advice within one working day.

If the noise is happening NOW, you should be contacted within 45 minutes (8am to 5pm) or 15 minutes (5pm to 8am).

Where noise is ‘happening now’ and the responding officer assesses a visit is necessary, we aim to visit site within 75 minutes (8am to 5pm)  or 60 minutes (5pm to 8am) of receiving the complaint.

The responding officer will contact you to discuss your complaint and may require further information to assist with the investigation.

We will need to visit to witness the noise from inside your premises.

Prioritising complaints

The following guidelines are used to guide priority on investigating complaints.

In normal circumstances, complaints will be dealt with in the chronological order in which they are received. The following considerations may however justify dealing with cases out of strict time sequence or deferring investigation of certain complaints until other higher priority complaints have been dealt with:

  • Where the officers believe that an investigation is likely to result in witnessing a contravention of a statutory notice and that contravention is likely to lead to legal proceedings
  • Where a noise incident is likely to affect a greater number of households or businesses (eg construction works, parties, alarms and incidents involving multiple complaints)
  • Where dealing with calls in time sequence would result in excessive travel time between visits, reducing the overall efficiency of the service (eg criss-crossing across the City)
  • Where early intervention can forestall the likely occurrence of a serious nuisance and/or safety hazard (eg to deal with a problem before it gets going)
  • Where early intervention can improve the overall effectiveness of the service (eg to witness an alarm nuisance and serve notice, returning to the premises later for work in default/enforcement); and where an officer has already made a commitment to a caller to visit, and another call is received which would normally receive higher priority, the officer may, at their discretion, deal with the arranged visit first.

There are circumstances when it may be appropriate to give a lower priority to certain types of complaint such as:

  • Anonymous complainants
  • Complainants who are not willing to be contacted or visited by the out-of-hours noise service officers or who do not want any action to be taken on the night; and
  • Complaints where the investigating officer has limited information, hampering the investigation.
  • Where the information available insufficient to investigate.

We will seek a resolution to justifiable noise complaints, though formal or informal action. Where it is not possible to resolve complaints, complainants will be advised on how to take their own action.

The City of London have produced a guide to resolving nuisance problems including advice on taking your own legal action. If the noise problem relates to a licensed premises then you may be able to take a review of the licence​.

If residents are likely to be disturbed by noise, the permitted times of operation, including ancillary activities such as deliveries, will be restricted to standard hours:

  • 8am - 6pm (Monday to Friday);
  • 9am - 2pm (Saturday);
  • No working is permitted on Sundays, bank holidays or other national holidays.

Additionally contractors are required to use methods which minimise noise disturbance and to liaise with neighbours. Information is on the construction, demolition and street works page. If contractors do not adhere to these or other times and requirements requested to minimise noise disturbance to neighbours, the City can impose them by serving a formal notice. However, most complaints are resolved informally.

Typical noise sources complained of in the City where action may be possible are:

  • Noise from audible premises alarms
  • Licensed premises operations (eg amplified music, people noise outside)
  • Deliveries and servicing of businesses and other street activities
  • Plant and equipment used to provide services to buildings eg ventilation fans and generators.

The City of London has a statutory duty to inspect the City for statutory nuisances and serve nuisance notices where they exist. Therefore investigating complaints and taking enforcement action related to statutory nuisance is a priority over complaints which are not likely to be noise nuisances.

For a noise to be a 'legal' nuisance it must have a material harmful impact on the normal, reasonable use of premises. It is not enough that the noise merely irritates someone or if the noise is harming an unusually sensitive activity or individual.

Helicopter or aircraft noise

​If you are experiencing noise from aircraft, such as helicopters, you should contact the Civil Aviation Authority by calling 020 7379 7311.

Noise on the Thames

For noise issues regarding noise on London's navigable waterways include the powering of vessels; tourist and party boats, piers and moorings; wharves and boatyards please refer to the pollution controls page.

Involves serving a statutory nuisance notice which requires noise to be independently witnessed and assessed by competent enforcement officers.

The City of London cannot require action to be taken unless there is sufficient evidence; action cannot be taken on noise based solely on the receipt of complaints.

Where there is sufficient evidence of a noise nuisance, an abatement notice is served requiring the person responsible to reduce the noise.

An abatement notice is a formal legal document which notifies the recipient of the problem and puts them on notice that if the problem continues, one or more of the following may result:

  • prosecution for not complying with the abatement notice, with fines of up to £5,000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for commercial premises
  • seizure of noise making equipment, under a magistrate's warrant where necessary
  • in the case of intruder alarms the City may enter the premises, using a magistrate's warrant where necessary, and silence the alarm
  • in the case of car alarms, the City may enter the vehicle and silence the alarm

Other law enforcement solutions to resolve noise complaints will be used where available and appropriate and in accordance with the Department’s Enforcement Policy. Remedies may also be sought through legislation enforced by other agencies or City Corporation Department's eg Planning, licensing or anti-social behaviour legislation.

Where despite our best efforts we cannot or are unlikely to obtain sufficient evidence for a notice to be served, we will make informal representations to the person responsible for the noise in order to reduce or prevent future disturbance.

Informal remedies to resolve justified noise complaints can provide quicker and more acceptable solutions to noise problems than formal legal enforcement investigation and action.

Where a complaint is justified[1] and there is a reasonable prospect of resolving it, then subject to other service demands, we will consider investigating and seeking to secure an improvement or prevent worsening of the problem where practicable to do so. Resources used will be guided by the extent of community impact and concern, prospect of achieving a sustainable solution.

[1] Likely to cause disturbance or annoyance but no enforcement remedy available or appropriate.​

What we will do after a complaint is made

Officers will usually respond to your complaint or request for advice within one working day, or within 45 minutes (8am to 5pm) or 15 minutes (5pm to 8am).  I f the noise is ‘happening now’. Where noise is ‘happening now’ and the responding officer assesses a visit is necessary, we aim to visit site within 75 minutes or 60 minutes (5pm to 8am) of receiving the complaint

When we contact you we may request additional information on the nature, times and frequency of the noise and the way in which it affects you. This information will assist with deciding:

  • Whether we can investigate your complaint or help you
  • The priority to investigate should be, and
  • What needs to happen next

We will:

  • Inform you of the steps we will take to investigate your complaint and when you can next expect to receive feedback on progress
  • Advise and make clear to you the possible action we can take to prevent or reduce the noise problem
  • Inform you of key actions we have taken or are intending to take, eg writing to the person causing the problem or serving of a notice.

Many complaints are resolved quickly and informally. However some complaints may not be so easy to resolve and we may need to have sufficient evidence, such as a City of London officer witnessing the noise, in order to take formal action.

Therefore we may need you, as part of the investigation to:

  • Keep records of the noise affecting you (dates, times, duration and effect)
  • Report noise to us when it occurs
  • Allow access for responding officers to your premises in order to witness the noise or set up noise monitoring equipment; this may be at unsocial times, eg at night
  • If necessary, provide witness statements and be willing to provide evidence in court, (although court appearance is not often required).

What we cannot do

The City Corporation cannot take formal action on noise based solely on complaints. For formal action to take place, noise must be witnessed by a competent officer of the City.

The City is a noisy place and not all noise will be a nuisance. The law does not give an absolute right to peace and quiet. For a noise to be a statutory nuisance it must have a material harmful impact on the normal, reasonable use of premises. It is not enough that the noise merely irritates someone or if the noise is harming an unusually sensitive activity or individual.

There are some noise sources for which the service does not have statutory powers or duties to carry out formal investigations and take formal enforcement action in response to complaints eg

  • Civil or military aviation including helicopters
  • Noise from motor vehicle traffic using public highways
  • Noise from the operation of the underground or railway networks
  • Noise from emergency vehicle sirens
  • Noise from people in the street or noise from loud speakers used as part of a political demonstration.
Resolving nuisance PDF (150KB)
Date submitted: 2/07/20
Enforcement Policy PDF (280KB)
Date submitted: 17/07/20
Noise Strategy PDF (120KB)
Date submitted: 17/07/20