Following on from the success of the Project X Presents production Music Is Not Pollution (845 youtube views and counting) – a short documentary we made in order to highlight issues of Noise Abatement in Digbeth and elsewhere, I was invited to the presentation of the results of the Digbeth Area Noise and Nuisance Study.

The study was commissioned by Advantage West Midlands – a regional development organisation I know surprisingly little about given that they are involved with vast amounts of funding. They presented the results of a study made by Atkins – a major independent consultancy firm – into the noise issues in Digbeth.

The results were somewhat inconclusive – essentially they provided a report detailing the economic identity of the area and a detailed study of noise levels in the area. Bizarrely, they pointed out that C weighted noise ie the bass frequencies is the band that really carries and is hard by their nature to dampen, and yet their highly detailed noise map of the area didnt include this area of the sound spectrum due to some issue with a lack of standardisation in how such information is measured. A questionner from the floor stated, not unreasonably, that this could be said to effectively invalidate their whole report.

They made some somewhat vague but potentially useful suggestions as to how things might move forward in the future, but little or no strategy for how to resolve the disputes that currently exist such as the Rainbow and Spotted Dog versus someone complaining in the Abacus development.

I was left with the overriding conviction that the Abacus should never have been built, at the very least, not in the way that it was – but we are stuck with the fact that it is there and somehow we have to deal with it. Otherwise it looks dangerously as tho the simplest “out” for the Council is going to be to dampen the noise in the area which might ultimately spell disaster for the Rainbow and the Spotted Dog.

At least with the Rainbow theres the chance that the council (or someone) might find funds necessary to seriously sound proof it – (this seems more likely than the council retrospectively applying the building regulations correctly to the Abacus) – but how can you soundproof the Spotted Dog when a) a lot of the noise comes from the garden and b) the windows of the pub are beautiful stained glass.

Anyway, the report offers the Council the chance to look at their position and prepare a holistic, sensible and conciliatory response. We await with interest.

Birmingham Blog

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