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This website and its aims

The Noise Pages focuses on noise issues involving students living in rented properties in residential areas near the University of Bristol. Yes, other people can also sometimes be noisy and disruptive, but most noise in this area is associated with students. Their universities are well aware of the impact student noise can have on residents—and the universities' own standing in the community—which is why they have disciplinary codes, backed by penalties, to try to keep matters under control. It therefore makes sense to focus on students and the universities' responsibility for them. In common with other residents, I want the universities to take the steps necessary to secure measurable reductions in noise. It is important that the universities shoulder the main burden of this effort and do not try to push the problem on to taxpayer-funded services such as the council and the police.

Andrew Waller

I am the owner/editor/publisher of the Noise Pages. I worked in journalism for more than 30 years, starting as a reporter on my local newspaper near Manchester and finishing as a copy editor in Hong Kong with Bloomberg, the business and finance newswire. After almost 20 years in Hong Kong I returned to the UK with my family in 2005. We settled in Bristol, and have not regretted it. The city has a buzz, a pleasant environment and plenty of things to do. In terms of my own experience of student noise, we moved to Redland in 2006 and for the first several years, noise wasn't a big problem. That changed in 2013, with an outbreak of loud parties nearby. The problem has fluctuated since, some years worse than others.​

Student noise, in a nutshell

There are two universities serving Bristol, the University of Bristol (UoB), close to the city centre, and the University of the West of England (UWE), further north (actually in South Gloucestershire). References on this site to "the university" will usually be to UoB unless otherwise stated, because my principal focus is on noise in Redland, Cotham, Clifton Down, Clifton (village), Central and other council wards close to UoB. The vast majority of students in those districts are with UoB.

Students are present for only about two-thirds of the year, and that includes some quieter periods (exam time). Peak noise is usually in October, early in the academic year. Summers are generally peaceful (though the summers of 2020 and 2021 were major exceptions for reasons indirectly linked to the coronavirus pandemic). A lot of students do not annoy their neighbours. But the minority who do is significantly bigger than the universities care to admit, and it's a bit of a lottery as to whether they end up living in your street. Some residents may wonder what the fuss is about; others are less fortunate.

The biggest sources of disturbance are loud, late-night parties and students shouting on their way to and from the pubs and clubs. These problems have worsened in recent years as the student population has grown. We have seen some very big, very loud house parties with hired DJs, sound equipment and doormen. Some of these attract 100 or more people—far more than a Victorian house was designed for—raising health and safety, insurance and legal concerns. (Plus, neighbouring gardens and streets become public lavatories and there's vomit and litter on the pavements next day.)

The group most complained about are second-year UoB students "living out" for the first time. (First-years live in university halls and an increasing number of students now also live in commercially run student accommodation blocks, many in the city centre. Those groups are not the main focus of this site.) Post-graduate students are more likely to be among those complaining about noise, as are university staff who live locally.

Student noise, and issues such as uncollected bins outside student houses, have proved intractable because there's no clear responsibility. Landlords and property agents certainly have a part to play. But most residents believe it's chiefly a job for the universities, simply because it is they who bring the students into our midst in large numbers. To push the problem on to the city council or the police, as the universities sometimes seem to be trying to do, would leave council-tax payers (residents, not students) paying to resolve problems of which they are the victims.



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