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College told to pipe down by neighbours

Complaints over noise at temporary home in Clerkenwell, but booze bid wins approval

31 May, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

A WORLD-renowned art college was ticked off this week after residents complained about the sound of bagpipes coming from their premises.

Grandees from the Courtauld Institute of Art were grilled by Town Hall chiefs for allowing the Scottish national instrument to be played in their temporary home in Clerkenwell.

People living near Vernon Square had raised objections to the prestigious art college’s application for an alcohol licence, which was heard at a licensing sub-committee meeting last Tuesday.

Questioning the Courtauld’s head of facilities Anthony Tyrrell, Councillor Gary Poole said: “You don’t dispute there was someone playing bagpipes at one of your events? Does that not indicate poor consideration for the neighbourhood, or is it something you’ve learned from?”

Mr Tyrrell replied: “It was our opening party. The Courtauld moved in in January, and we had a celebratory party for Burns Night. And yes, that did involve a person with the bagpipes.

“We’ve certainly learned from that. I wasn’t responsible for organising the event. I would not necessarily have thought that the sound that caused would have gone as far and wide from out of the premises as it did.

“That clearly is a mistake, and it is my duty to take on board. If there are lessons to learn, it’s that we probably do not have live music playing.”

The Courtauld moved into the former the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) building in Vernon Square last year as a temporary base until 2022, while Somerset House in the West End is refurbished. The school is known for its focus on the history of art and has produced museum and gallery directors who have led the likes of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery, and the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Their application for a licence to sell alcohol from 6pm-10pm Monday to Friday, and noon to 10pm on weekends, was approved by the committee despite objections from six residents.

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