When you've spent £10m on a Mayfair penthouse you don't expect the world's loudest rockers to disturb your peace. Volume restrictions demanded by well-heeled residents are forcing bands who "turn it up to 11" to consider vacating Hyde Park.
Red Hot Chili Peppers yesterday announced an open-air concert next June for 125,000 fans at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. The US band are believed to have turned down the chance to return to Hyde Park, where they played three sell-out nights in 2004, after learning that concert volume levels had been restricted in response to residents' complaints.
Owned by the Royal Parks, the 350-acre Hyde Park is given over to music events for up to 13 days each summer. Last year, 500,000 fans attended shows by The Killers, Arcade Fire and Bon Jovi.
Next summer, there will be an additional 18 days of entertainment in the park when large screens are erected to show the Olympics. Open from 9am-10pm, revellers are promised "the largest free-entry sports bar ever seen". A special licence application will be required to stage the events.
Anthony Lorenz, chairman of the Residents' Society of Mayfair and St James's, said: "If the decibels aren't kept down then it does become a nuisance matter. It's important to make the sound tolerable for residents." Mr Lorenz, who runs a commercial property agency in the area, said he would raise with Live Nation, the concert promoter which operates the Hyde Park site, the prospect of building a 20ft tarpaulin structure around the park to keep the noise inside the venue.
An insider said: "The residents complained of excessive noise when the Chemical Brothers and Kings of Leon played. The volume controls agreed with Westminster City Council in order to licence the events are too stringent for some heavier bands like the Chili Peppers."
However Toby Leighton-Pope, promoter at Live Nation, said: "When the Red Hot Chili Peppers played Hyde Park in 2004 they had no problems with sound, no complaints from their fans and, as far as we are concerned, this was not a factor in not playing Hyde Park on their European Tour next year."
Live Nation will submit a premises licence application for next year's Hyde Park events, including an environmental noise assessment for the proposed activities. Madonna and Smashing Pumpkins are tipped to perform next Summer and Mr Leighton-Pope promised "no new restrictions on sound limits, as laid down by Westminster Council". The additional Olympic-themed events "will be multi-faceted in nature and not large pop and rock concerts," Live Nation said.
Westminster City Council said the current noise limit for Hyde Park concerts was 75dB and that 24 noise breaches had been recorded during June and July this year. Decibel levels are closely monitored at each gig by the council, which determines the noise level limits. Levels above 115 dB can be dangerous at rock concerts.
Knebworth House, the stately home which has hosted famous large-scale concerts including Led Zeppelin in 1979, Oasis in 1996 and Robbie Williams in 2003, has offered to host the noisier bands. Henry Lytton-Cobbold, the Knebworth owner-occupier, said: "We have a good relationship with our neighbours but it is easier for us to stage loud concerts."