• Simon Linford
    Is there any measured sound data for how quiet a ring of bells can be in a tower with near total sound control? I need a decibels figure for a scenario where a new tower is built with variable sound control where, when the sound control is shut, there will be no chance whatsoever of disturbing the neighbours, so I need to be able to give an example of how quiet a ring of bells can actually be.
  • John Harrison
    no chance of disturbing the neighbours is more complex than the sound level of the bells. Among other things it depends on the background sound level. As an example our shutters reduce the sound level by approx 20 dB when closed. You probably wouldn't notice the ringing from when there is lots of traffic but with no traffic they are audible for several hundred metres with direct line of site.
    Is the sound of quiet bells disturbing? It's a bit like a ticking clock - one person forgets its there but another finds it really distracting.
    I could dig out the measurements we made if they are any use.
  • Simon Linford
    This is for a proposed tower at the entrance to a public park in Birmingham which we are calling "The Pyramid Stage". It is on the main A38 running into Northfield and although we all think you will not hear bells over ambient trafic noise we don't want negative reactions from nearby residents to a current consultation being run by the Council, so I want to give some reassurance on dB.
  • Alison Hodge
    Simon - we have general guide lines about sound levels on the CCCBR website here: https://cccbr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Mike-Banks-noise.pdf

    For a complete new ring, there could be complaints however low the sound levels may be, as John has said. Some people could be irritated by the addition of even a low level of sound to the ambient level. Whatever the current levels of traffic noise, office aircon units, aircraft, sirens, alarms etc, the bells may still be audible and annoy some within earshot when ringing. What may be perceived to be worse is that they are not like a ticking clock that is there all the time and the brain soon learns to filter out; the bells will only be rung and hence audible for a relatively low % of the hours in any week so the brain will react when the bells start to ring.

    It also depends on the nature of the properties and residents /users nearby - hospitals, care-homes, schools, offices may all have different concerns and at different times of the day and evening (night is unlikely). Similarly, the seasons will get different responses - winter with closed windows will probably have fewer complaints than summer with open windows and more garden / park usage. (If fuel prices go up much further the traffic noise may reduce substantially!)

    The best plan will be to set and adhere precisely to a well defined schedule for the ringing - eg 2 hours on a Saturday morning from 10-12, 2 hours on a Weds evening 7-9pm, and a Q every month during term time from 3.30 t0 5pm on Friday (ie after school).

    From what I have heard, the noise levels do not need to exceed a certain threshold to be deemed to a nuisance - and there are certain medical conditions that are said to be aggravated by sounds.
  • Mike Banks
    Simon - could I suggest you refer to slides 36 and 43 in my presentation - these relate to external sound levels at Duffield and Belper after sound control was installed. In particular, Belper has the nickname "The Peal Factory" and houses are situated within 50 metres of the tower. It is nearly impossible to hear the bells when the sound control system is closed. I should point out that any system must be 100% airtight when the doors are closed as is the case at Belper. In my experience most people do not understand what "airtight" means and approach sound control with a "that should be alright" attitude which never works!
  • John Harrison
    agree about a good seal. When we installed ours in 1982 I added strips of draft excluder foam, and as I closed the last one I had put the strips on we noticed the slight sound of traffic had disappeared. I still do that as a party trick when showing visitors round.
  • Roger Booth
    You need to be very careful in quoting dB as it is a logarithmic scale and you can't simply add the figures of two sounds together. To be useful you also need to give the distance from the source. There are also different weighted scales to consider as the sound of bells is not constant - the bell is at its loudest when it strikes. For construction site noise Town Planners consider a time weighted scale over a period of hours.

    However most noise complaints about bells are made to the Environmental Health Officer and considered under the law of nuisance, and that depends on what is 'reasonable'. I was once involved in a case where neighbours in a block of flats were making a lot of noise. One neighbour was elderly and as they were hard of hearing it didn't affect them. However it seriously affected the neighbour who worked shifts and wanted to sleep!
  • Peter Sotheran
    We are in a similar situation to John Harrison. With our sound shutters closed the bells are barely audible above the ambient noise of passing traffic during the day. On Sundays when the ambient noise is less and the shutters are open, the bells can be heard clearly across the town centre. I'm afraid we don't have any decibell data but our system works to everyone's satisfaction.
  • Simon Linford
    That's excellent Mike (and thanks Alison for the link). The houses at Belper are much nearer to where this proposed tower is.

    I think between all those comments and a couple of things I have been sent privately I have all the defence I need at this stage.
  • Simon Ridley
    We have a sound monitoring report, undertaking by a [professional company. This covers all the points raised above and provides a robust and independent report should we ever need it. I am happy to share this if anyone wants to see it.
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