A LIVE music venue in Weymouth town centre is to have its night-time entertainment curtailed following a noise complaint, as new licence conditions will force bands to finish early.

The Duke of Cornwall on St Edmund Street has been at the centre of a licensing row. A complaint from Respect Weymouth claims 12 properties are suffering from excessive sound levels.

On Tuesday a Dorset Council licensing sub-committee heard from the pub's landlord and a representative of Respect Weymouth as each party presented their case.

An officer from the council's Environmental Health team also attended, recommending an outside sound limit of 55 decibels be imposed, as well as mandatory door staff, among other conditions.

However, reaching a verdict yesterday evening the panel took a different approach. There will be no set restrictions on decibel levels - for the time being.

The Live Music Act exemptions have now been removed from the Duke of Cornwall's licence ('deregulation of the Licensing Act 2003'). The legislation was introduced by the Government to help venues hold live performances free from Licensing Act red tape.

Meanwhile the sub-committee considered that it was not appropriate to revoke or suspend the licence or to exclude any activity or remove the landlord.

In a statement the council said: The Sub-Committee decided that the most appropriate and proportionate course of action to specifically address the noise issue, was to reduce the hours that live and recorded music could be played, to amend and add to the existing conditions on the Premises Licence and to state that the deregulation provisions set out in Section 177A of the Licensing Act 2003 do not apply to the premises.

The pub must now comply with new conditions: landlords must hire a qualified acoustic consultant to carry out a noise assessment. If they believe nuisance will be caused to residents in noise-sensitive properties at two neighbouring streets, a noise management plan must be put in place to prevent this.

Dorset Echo: Bands at the Duke of Cornwall will have to finish earlyBands at the Duke of Cornwall will have to finish early

During music performances the pub must take noise readings every 90 minutes from a nearby street corner to check volume is not likely to cause a disturbance.

The onus is on the licence holder to make a judgment on whether it is too loud - however they must also keep a written log to show Dorset Council and/or the police.

Under the new conditions music must finish earlier than the current licence: at 11pm Monday to Thursday; 1am Fridays and Saturdays, and 10pm on Sundays.

Previously live music was permitted until 2am Monday to Saturday and 1am on Sundays.

What was said?

At the meeting pub landlord Martin Freed said he did not accept that there was a case for complaint names to be withheld and that Dorset Council should not have given the application any credibility, adding that other venues in the area made more noise than his premises. He set out several steps that he had already taken to reduce noise levels.

Meanwhile, Respect Weymouth said it was not trying to close the premises down or prevent live music being played.

Dorset Echo: Landlords Tina and Martin outside the Duke of CornwallLandlords Tina and Martin outside the Duke of Cornwall

Its representative said the main issue was 'the volume of noise from the premises in the evenings, which was intrusive and interfered with everyday things like watching television and so on,' forcing residents to keep windows closed during warm summer months.

Dorset Council said its Licensing sub-committee agreed with Respect Weymouth in that there was 'a level of music noise nuisance during the later hours' and considered that it was 'possible for children as well as adults to suffer from disturbed sleep.'

'Appropriate action'

The committee did not consider it appropriate to revoke or suspend the pub's licence, or to stop live music going ahead, but that 'the most appropriate course of action was to reduce the hours that live and recorded music could be played.'

Members said that amending the premises licence 'was appropriate for the particular circumstances of the premises to promote the licensing objective of the prevention of public nuisance.'

Evidence for the review came in the form of documents submitted by Respect Weymouth, including a residents survey from 12 nearby properties and a list of decibel figures and dates that Respect Weymouth had compiled. URL links to sound recordings in the PDF document were not active .

A Dorset Council spokesperson added: "Dorset Council’s licensing subcommittee has read and listened to the evidence to review the premises licence for the Duke of Cornwall. They have reached a decision to modify the conditions of the premises.

"When there is an application to review a premises licence the council must follow an official review process including a 28-day consultation."