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Which City Has The UK’s Noisiest Neighbours?

When it comes to choosing the perfect place to live, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered including what the local neighbourhood is like, with one important factor often being how noisy it is to live there. A noisy environment can have a negative impact on your sleep, wellness and lifestyle, especially now more of us are working from home, meaning it is a good idea to check out any noise issues before making a purchase or signing a rental agreement.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified traffic noise, including road, rail and air traffic, as the second most important cause of ill health in Western Europe, behind air pollution.

Evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to environmental noise can lead to negative cardiovascular and metabolic effects, reduced cognitive performance in children as well as severe annoyance and sleep disturbance, with long-term exposure to environmental noise estimated to cause 12,000 premature deaths and contribute to 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease per year in the European territory (pre-Brexit). It is estimated that 22 million people suffer chronic high annoyance and 6.5 million people suffer chronic high sleep disturbance.  Furthermore, 12,500 school children are estimated to suffer learning impairment in school as a result of aircraft noise,

So, we think the publication of new research revealing the UK’s noisiest cities is an important resource to help home movers make an informed decision about their new home’s location.

The UK’s noisiest cities

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research found that London – with its estimated population of 8.9 million (in 2019), which is around 6 million people more than the UK’s second-highest populated city of Birmingham with 2.93 million occupants and third most populated city of Manchester with 2.84 million – ranked first as the UK’s noisiest city.

London topped the list with 158,958 noise complaints over a 12-month period which works out at 515 noise complaints per 10,000 households. The London borough of Westminster was the noisiest with 24,756 noise complaints (20 per 100 households); followed by Islington with 15,760 complaints (15 per 100 households); Kensington & Chelsea had over 1000 fewer complaints than Islington (13,040) however the borough matched Islington with 15 complaints per 100 households. Next up was Barking & Dagenham, Newham, Hackney, Harringay, Lambeth and the 10th noisiest borough was Merton.

The analysis by price comparison platform Confused.com is based on a freedom of information request across UK local authorities asking for data from the UK’s 100 biggest cities and London boroughs to find out the number of noise complaints in the last 12 months and compare this to the number of households.

However, it wasn’t the next most populated cities of Birmingham or Manchester that ranked second in the UK’s top 10 noisiest cities list. In fact, according to research by Confused.com, Southampton took the next spot as the UK’s second noisiest city with 5,147 noise complaints amounting to 476 complaints per 10,000 households. Bath came third with 3,288 noise complaints (401 complaints per 10,000); followed by Portsmouth (384 complaints per 10,000); then Cambridge (307 complaints per 10,000); Manchester (276 complaints per 10,000); Oxford (257 complaints per 10,000); Stockport (253 complaints per 10,000); Luton (250 complaints per 10,000) and finally Brighton with 249 complaints per 10,000 took 10th place.

Types of Noise Pollution & Top Complaints

The researchers also conducted a survey of 2,000 people across the UK to determine what people think about their neighbours and what they are likely to complain about. Although city noise can come from a variety of sources, including traffic, aircraft, neighbours, barking dogs, car alarms, pubs and clubs, construction sites, anti-social behaviour and recreational noise, the survey revealed that people were most likely to complain about loud music (50%) loud parties (43%) raised voices (29%), barking dogs (24%) followed by loud televisions (21%).

Further data revealed 3 out of 10 people had made a noise complaint about a neighbour with four out of 10 noise complaints causing tension between neighbours. Conversely, 3 out of 10 people said they would not complain about a noisy neighbour for fear of causing awkwardness.

If you are looking to move to a new area, taking a look at noise complaints might be a deciding factor when choosing a location, particularly now we are spending a lot more time at home.

Have you lived in a noisy location or had noisy neighbours?

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Alex Wright, Editor