by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies
One of the most common complaints to 311 in New York City is neighbor noise and this complaint seems to be a common one worldwide. Thus, it was not surprising to learn that the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page took action against his neighbor, Sir Harvey McGrath, who wanted to build “three 20 wooden trellises in his back yard.” This was not the first time Jimmy Page took an action against a neighbor over a proposed change to that neighbor’ property. He had earlier been in dispute with Robbie Williams when Williams proposed changes to his property.
Page claims that changes to his neighbor’s property would intrude on his ability to do his work “requiring my full concentration with no distracting noise and/or vibration from other sources.” Yes, noise is a major factor here.
Page’s objection was dismissed and the decision noted that the changes to the property were in line with other properties that have timber trellises and these do not change the “character and appearance of the property.”
That noise can intrude on one’s work, as Page claims, has been supported by research and during the pandemic with many people working at home, there was an increase in neighbor noise complaints. The present article does not discuss impacts of noise on mental and physical behavior, including work, nor do we learn whether Page hired an expert witness to support his claim. I have served as an expert witness in cases involving neighbor noise and know that similar claims have been supported by expert witnesses who speak to the impacts of noise on behavior. In many cases, these expert witness statements have resulted in decisions favoring those who brought the claims.