Hove bar licenced reviewed after years of complaints from neighbours

The Paris House in HoveThe Paris House in Hove
The Paris House in Hove
Neighbours of a Hove pub pleaded with councillors to stop it playing music so loud the song lyrics can be heard inside their homes.

Four people living near the Paris House in Western Road are asking the council to introduce more conditions to stop loud music late at night, supported by nine other neighbours.

But the pub says if any changes are made to its licence, it will not survive the changes.

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Tensions ran high during a mammoth eight-hour licensing panel at Hove Town Hall last Friday (10 May).

The residents called the review themselves after several years of complaints and mediation didn’t work.

Paris House supporters sent 130 representations and a 1,646-signature petition, made up in part of emails received via a QR code.

Resident Chris Hallsworth, who has lived in the area for 12 years, told the panel the residents had “tried every single thing” including providing video clips and noise diaries and having recording equipment in their homes.

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He said: “We can’t sit in the back garden when there are problems, we’re woken up from sleep.

“We can’t use the front part of our house to have guests to stay with us, it’s a bit of a joke within the family and with friends that we live in a noisy house.”

He said the residents did not want to see the pub closed, but conditions introduced.

His next-door neighbour Jac Kirby, who has lived in her home for 19 years, said: “I’ve bought a tent and gone away. I’ve gone away to friends. I’ve been woken up at 1.30 in the morning with screaming and shouting.

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“I can’t get to sleep at night and this has been going on for a long time now.”

Cambridge Road resident Leigh Rush has lived in his flat for 35 years and has to turn up his TV or radio to drown out the music from Paris House.

He said: “Paris House claims to be part of what makes Brighton, Brighton, but I disagree.

“What makes Brighton, Brighton, is the freedom to enjoy one’s life in a way that does not impinge on other people and that’s not true of the Paris House.”

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On Mondays Mr Rush works from home and has to work through three hours of music in the afternoon when the pub has a live jazz afternoon.

Noise expert Richard Vivian, 56, was asked to test noise levels for the residents, which he said were “shocking” late at night – although he said daytime levels were “not great but not the end of the world”.

The volume was so loud inside their homes on Saturday, 20 April, he said the noise limiter in the pub was probably not working.

He said: “Suddenly there’s a very loud noise and it’s very clearly recognisable Blondie’s Heart of Glass, the 70s/80s hit.

“It’s just really loud. Just incredibly loud.

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“It may have coincided with the doors being wide open as customers left, but it certainly indicates to me that everything is turned up for the grand finale of the DJ.”

He recommended conditions to limit entertainment to before 11pm, to ensure live music is routed entirely through the sound limiter after 7pm, and for a locked noise limiter to be installed and set by an environmental health officer.

The pub’s Saturday night resident DJ Andy Wagstaff-Clarke, known as Andy the Dandy, confirmed he finishes his weekend set with Only Your Heart of Glass, a “mash-up” of the Blondie song and The Platters Only You.

He said he checks the levels of all the music played and runs his equipment through the pub’s noise limiter.

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Paris House was represented by specialist licensing solicitor Andy Grimsey of Poppleston Allen who said the pub has been a music venue for 30 years.

Mr Grimsey said: “I know it ebbs and flows with different occupiers and operators, but it has always been there in terms of living memory.

“Just like busy cars going to down Western Road, people arguing in the street, the homeless people sadly who are around there. the private parties in flats, it’s a busy vibrant area.”

Paris House is owned by Rowbell Leisure, whose head of legal Tony Groom said there had been 22 visits by council officers from environmental health and licensing but no noise nuisance was found.

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He said: “There’s a distorted impression as to what the pub is actually like. Yes we do call our Saturday night a club night, but we’re being ironic … Our average age on a Saturday night is well over 50.”

He said the noise limiter was checked by environmental health and set at the correct level as required by the licence.

Pub manager Helena Marchand said every effort was made to minimise noise.

She said: “Some of the music acts I book are the same ones that have been booked since we started having music, which makes me think that nothing has changed in the way we do our live sessions.

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“The only think that’s changed in the past few years would be the neighbours’ tolerance to that live music, but we did not change a thing.”

Rowbell Leisure director Alistair MacKinnon-Musson, 61, explained the company cannot install a lobby system to reduce noise through the doors because there is only one entrance and installing double glazing would be prohibitively expensive.

He said: “Brighton needs the Paris House and all live music community spaces like it because they simply make Brighton, Brighton.

“For it to survive Brighton needs the Paris House to remain exactly as it is, without added conditionality on its licence.

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“What we have is already working, it is not broken and does need fixing.”

The panel – councillors David McGregor, Paul Nann and Tobias Sheared – retired to make their decision which should be made public in five working days.

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