Greenwich locals feel 'trapped' in their homes as 'endless buskers' perform outside flats

Rockfield House sits beside Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich, London, UK
-Credit: (Image: Google Earth)

Greenwich locals have claimed they feel 'trapped' in their homes by the noise from 'endless' buskers outside their flats. The owner of Greenwich Market, Greenwich Hospital, applied to play music at its nearby market in Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich.

The licence would allow live and recorded music to be played at the market between midday and 4pm from Friday to Sunday. The noise would reportedly be limited to below 65 decibels.

The topic was discussed at a licensing meeting for Greenwich Council on July 8. Rachid Ghailane, the legal representative for Greenwich Hospital, said at the meeting that the music would generally consist of a performer with a single speaker and no stage. He claimed slots would last 15 minutes and take place up to four times a day between noon and 4pm.

He added that the performances would be monitored by a full-time supervisor and the charity had received no complaints about the market since it began operating in March last year. However, Labour Councillor Calum O’Byrne Mulligan claimed he had personally submitted two complaints on excessive noise in the area relating to the market in April this year and the issue accounted for the majority of complaints he received as a ward councillor.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: The Cutty Sark during the launch of the Kings Cup Regatta at Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London on May 07, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The market is based beside the famous Cutty Sark ship in Greenwich -Credit:Getty Images / Chris Jackson Collection

The councillor said the current regulations from Greenwich Council for preventing busking in the area were 'incredibly poorly enforced'. Anna Ginsburg, a resident leaseholder at the nearby Rockfield House, said she was 'shocked' by the application and that the noise coming from buskers at Cutty Sark Gardens was already too high. She said that the performances planned at the market would be located 20 metres from her home.

Ms Ginsburg said at the meeting: "We already endure so much noise as a result of Greenwich Council just not being clear with these people. The food market, the merry-go-round, the endless amplified buskers, the marathon, the various day festivals all year long. From Thursday until late every single weekend, music can be heard loudly in every single room of my home."

Milagros Grady, who has been a resident beside Cutty Sark Gardens for nearly 40 years, said at the meeting: "I can tell you that I have panic attacks because of the loudness that comes through. It’s so great that I feel so trapped and hopeless. That was a really horrible experience, being trapped in your home and not being able to come out to a place of safety because you are surrounded by this loudness around you."

James Charlton, head of property at Greenwich Hospital, said the application represented an opportunity to control the unauthorised busking that was currently happening in the area and potentially get rid of it. Mr Ghailane responded to the neighbours’ concerns by saying he was happy to offer a direct line with residents so that complaints could be voiced when needed.

The legal representative said the Cutty Sark Gardens market had been run by another operator before Greenwich Hospital took it over and the charity had no control over whether regulations were adhered to in this time. He added that performances under the new licence were only intended to be carried out on one day a week between Friday and Sunday, not on every day each weekend.

Mr Ghailane said at the meeting: "We are competing with other markets as well in the area, in the docklands and different places and every market, having [music] as a part of the market’s strategy to enhance the economy and help and support the traders and in the meantime to have a place become vibrant and attractive."

The decision on the licensing application from Greenwich Hospital on its market in Cutty Sark Gardens will be made by the licensing sub-committee following the meeting. A formal decision notice on the topic is expected in the coming days.

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