OPINION - Why do these people move to London areas like Soho then complain about noise?

[object Object] (Fat Tony)
[object Object] (Fat Tony)

I’m not being funny but… I’ve always wondered why people would move to busy, vibrant areas and then complain about it. I’m not talking about any old place. Over the years we’ve seen culture take over a neighbourhood with its richness and diversity of bars, clubs, restaurants and so on.

Of course, Soho first comes to mind. Not just a hub for queer life, but also once a destination within the nightlife industry. Every single day of the week was jam-packed with people and excitement. Funny thing is maybe only 20-odd years ago, it wasn’t a desirable residential area. It was debauched. It was where you went to let off some steam, whether on the dancefloor, at the bar or… a number of other activities that I dare not mention in the Evening Standard.

People who lived there were either in nightlife, young people or a little off their rocker. And that obviously included myself. Now it’s overpriced and inaccessible. More recently, with how fast London is evolving, you could name another dozen neighbourhoods that have taken a similar trajectory.

So, I am asking why residents who have all these choices of where to live decide on locations renowned for their nightlife? Or better said, LIFE. I’ve spoken about this before but the night-time economy is massively important to the capital’s value and growth.

Why do residents who have all these choices of where to live decide on locations renowned for their nightlife?

Why do we allow residents so much power with councils and make it so easy to ignore the value of culture? I mean, moving into Soho and then complaining about the sound. Are you f***ing kidding me? Why pick Soho if you want to de-Soho it. Or any lively area for that matter. It’s like buying a house with a beautiful garden and then paving over it with cement.

I remember I once did a daytime party series at Century Club in Soho. While we could still hear music blaring out of the tuk-tuks below us, we were the ones receiving complaints from neighbours to the point we had multiple council inspections over the course of the summer. During. The. Day.

Westminster Council has its own squad that go around telling businesses to turn down their sound levels. Even on Pride.

Pride in London is one of Europe’s biggest street parties and yet venues are asked to turn it down constantly despite the crowd noises being much louder than the music. This strict approach goes for so many areas in London — hence why it’s so difficult to ever apply for new late licences even though health and safety standards are stricter than they’ve ever been.

Have you been to Manchester or Liverpool city centre lately? Exciting, busy, lively, as those particular areas should be. I heard that contracts for new residents in certain Elephant & Castle apartment buildings have a clause built in that they can’t complain about Ministry of Sound provided the club sticks to its agreed operating limitations.

I like this compromise and feel like more of this can and should be done. Councils need to start seeing the economic value of keeping these hubs together. Open dialogue, with a “can-do” attitude. London’s already priced itself out of most people’s level, the least that needs to be done is ensure what already exists is protected. The last thing we need is one nosy neighbour to ruin it for thousands.

So much can be done here. Soho is constantly having renovations on older buildings. Just ensure appropriate sound insulation is added and that’ll be a huge help. If a place of cultural importance gets knocked down to make way for developments, its owners need to commit to creating a space to replace it. This happened with the Tottenham Court Road site where the Astoria was replaced with Outernet.

It can be done — we just need a commitment on a larger scale. I’m here for it. See you next Wednesday.

Track of the week: Space Cowboy (Michael Gray’s Good Vibe Dub) — Jamiroquai, Michael Gray

Fat Tony is a DJ and bestselling author