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Noise and nuisance

Guide to busking on Bankside

How your performance could affect the local area

Bankside is a residential and business area and your performance could impact people living and working nearby. Please move away or adjust your volume or performance if a Southwark Council officer or a City of London officer asks you to.

Think about your volume

The biggest cause of complaints about busking is noise. Sound can travel a long way. It can go high into the air and affect residents who live in flats. It can bounce off hard surfaces and water and affect residents across the river.

We advise the following:

  • keep your volume to just above the background street noise
  • avoid using amplification, but if you use amplifiers be aware of your volume and keep to a minimum
  • if your performance can be heard 40 metres away, it's too loud and will be disturbing residents
  • be aware that in the summer, residents may have their windows open and many residents may be working from their homes

Avoid causing hazards and obstruction

  • do not cause an obstruction
  • check that your equipment won’t trip passers-by
  • if your audience grows and blocks an access door or walkway, stop performing until the audience reduces

How to avoid complaints whilst busking

Do

  • be polite and reasonable and reduce noise levels if asked
  • make use of the busking pitch and consider allowing a break between performances
  • keep backing tracks unobtrusive and turn them off when you’re not performing
  • consider how your music may affect others who live and work in the area
  • stop your performance if crowds gather and cause an obstruction
  • limit your performance to a maximum of one hour

Don’t

  • repeat songs over and over again
  • busk close to another busker - this causes a noise clash which can be intrusive for others to hear
  • perform outside the busking pitch
  • use loud amplification - your performance does not need to be loud to attract an audience 
  • sell CDs or other merchandise
  • play brass, drums or bagpipes

Please take part in our busking conversation

We’re working with Bankside buskers and residents to find a balance that's largely acceptable for all. If you'd like to take part and help us create a code of conduct for buskers on Bankside, email davewalker@calmmediation.org.

Laws that relate to busking

Page last updated: 21 December 2022

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