Gradual decrease in noise complaints to council

The number of noise complaints sent to Waltham Forest Council dropped from 696 in 2021 to 533 last year, reports Sebastian Mann, Local Democracy Reporter

Waltham Forest Town Hall

The number of noise complaints being dealt with by Waltham Forest Council is steadily decreasing due to early interventions, the authority says. 

Around 2,000 are made to the council each year. They span a variety of causes, from construction and animal sounds to traffic and music.  

The “vast majority” of cases in the borough are dealt with informally, according to a report, and the remaining quarter are handled by the council’s air quality and environmental protection team (AQEP). 

Alongside ‘other reasons,’ music was the most commonly complained about noise in Waltham Forest every year. A total of 183 related complaints were received in 2021 and 172 in 2023, with a spike of 210 in 2022. 

Several elements are considered when handling a complaint, including the type of noise, the number of people affected, the times of day, and whether it is unreasonable or malicious noise. 

The council says it has seen “some reduction” in the number coming through to AQEP, dropping from 696 cases in 2021 to 533 last year. 

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In the report, due before a scrutiny meeting on Thursday (16th May), an officer said this “suggests the current triage process is helping to resolve a high proportion of noise-related cases at a very early stage [and] prioritise the allocation of resources to more serious cases”. 

That process typically involves giving the responsible party a chance to reduce or stop the noise on an informal basis. In cases relating to domestic noise complaints, the council will first send a warning letter to the homeowner before undertaking an investigation. 

It is becoming increasingly rare for the council to issue a formal notice to a resident, having posted just four of them in 2023. 

In 2022, nine were handed to residents, warning them that not reducing their noise levels could lead to prosecution. This was down significantly from the 22 issued in 2021.

In some instances, issues with noise can be related to wider problems with anti-social behaviour, premises licensing, or crime. The officer added: “There are cases where various issues need to be dealt with separately by the responsible services [such as the police], but often cases can be resolved with actions, formal or informal, taken only by one service.” 

Going forward, Waltham Forest will look to “strengthen” the coordination between AQEP and other services, but no specific recommendations have been made. 

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