Church gets gagging order
A church in London has been slapped with a noise abatement notice, after complaints by a Muslim neighbour.
The Immanuel House of Worship Church, in Walthamstow, has been meeting in the Victorian church hall since 2006. The property next door, which had been the manse, was bought by the current occupier in 2005, who complained several times about the ‘noise’ coming from the worship sessions.
The neighbours, Mr and Mrs Baha Uddin, complained that the noise levels from church worship (which was for up to 40 minutes a week) was intolerable, and Mr Uddin would often stand outside the church during sermons, shouting at the pastor.
An abatement notice was served on the church trustees in May, who took it to appeal at Waltham Forest Magistrates Court. However, despite the church having double-glazed the windows, carrying out sound-reduction on advice from the council when they moved in, Mr Uddin started to complain in 2008.
According to the church, an environmental health protection officer had warned the church to ‘keep the noise down, so as not to offend the Muslims living in the area’. The church reduced hours of Sunday worship to two hours, reduced services to one service on Sunday, and did not use music in their mid-week services.
One of the arguments presented against the church was that it did not need amplifiers as, 50 years ago, church services would not have used amplifiers.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is giving advice to the church, said: ‘Any reasonable person would think that singing for 40 minutes or so once or twice a week would not cross the threshold of noise nuisance.
‘Worship in a church is to be expected. The environmental health officers do not seem to have taken this fact into account’.