Information for contractors on noise and pollutants

This page is for contractors, developers, architects, utilities and others who are undertaking building works in Westminster.

The 24 hour noise team responds to all complaints of noise, dust and smoke from building sites within 45 minutes of receipt of the complaint.

The council sets times during which works can be carried out and the methods of work to be used. Contractors can apply for prior approval for their works by completing a section 61 application.

Section 61 prior approval application form

Guidance notes

Site information document

Dispensation / variation form

Permitted hours of working

Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm
Saturday 8am to 1pm
Sunday and bank holidays No working

Contractors that undertake noisy work outside of these hours may be prosecuted and fined. These times apply to any work which is audible at the site boundary.

In exceptional circumstances (eg in the case of police traffic restrictions or in an emergency) work outside these hours may be unavoidable. In such cases the person responsible should contact the noise team to let them know as far in advance as possible. You are also advised to notify surrounding residents and businesses.

Businesses are sometimes disrupted by noisy, drawn-out building work, such as demolition. It is normal for office managers to approach building site managers and negotiate some respite from the noise during the working day. In extreme cases where negotiations have failed, the council may impose restrictions on the times that the noisiest works, such as pneumatic drilling, can take place. It is important to balance the needs of business against the needs of the building site, and each case will be looked at on its own merits.

Types of work

These rules apply to:

  • erection, construction, alteration, repair or maintenance of buildings, structures or roads
  • breaking up, opening or boring under any road or adjacent land in connection with the construction, inspection, maintenance or removal of works
  • demolition or dredging works
  • any work of engineering construction

The council will take action against any person contravening the requirements of a notice served upon them and, where a serious nuisance occurs, will take proceedings in the High Court for an injunction.

Methods of work

All efforts must be made to minimise noise according to British Standard guidance (BS 5228-1:2009, as amended by Amendment No.1 and BS 5228-2:2009, as amended by Amendment No.1). For example:

  • for any particular job, the quietest plant or machinery should be used - where appropriate it must be constructed to meet the requirements of EEC directives
  • all equipment should be maintained in good mechanical order and fitted with the appropriate silencers, mufflers or acoustic covers
  • stationary noise sources should be sited as far as possible from noise sensitive development, and where necessary, acoustic barriers should be used to shield them - such barriers may be proprietary types, or may consist of site materials such as bricks or earth mounds
  • any piling should be carried out by the method causing the minimum of noise and vibration; sheet steel piling whether permanent or temporary should be driven by vibratory jacking or boxsilenced percussion systems or a combination of these methods subject to the requirements of the district surveyor
  • the movement of vehicles to and from the site must be controlled and should not take place outside the permitted hours unless with prior approval; employees should be supervised to ensure compliance with the noise control measures adopted

Air pollution control

The council can impose requirements to prevent or reduce nuisance from dust and smoke. Dust should be controlled by a continuous fine water spray. The perimeter of the site should be screened to a sufficient height to prevent the spread of dust.

Bonfires are not permitted. Materials infected by dry rot or woodworm should be removed from the site in sealed containers and taken to a licensed disposal point.

 For more information contact the Environmental Services Association.


General good practice

In the interests of good public relations, you are advised to inform and consult local residents regarding works. You should also provide the name of person on site who will be able to deal with queries.

If you have any queries about these matters, need advice about a specific site or wish to apply for formal approval for works on construction sites please email

Last updated: 27 April 2018
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