Buskers performing outside some of London’s best-known tourist attractions are to face tougher regulations, after complaints about them increased five-fold since 2014.
The street performers will be required to obey a code of conduct, which limits their performances to 45 minutes, requires them to “ensure a full and varied repertoire”, and restricts them from playing in the same location in one day.
The code of conduct has been drawn up by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a London borough that is home to the V&A Museum and the Natural History Museum, as well as Portobello Road.
It said complaints against street performers had increased from 243 in 2014 to 1,013 in 2018. Local residents have complained about the level of noise, the use of amplifiers, the noise caused by two buskers playing near each other at the same time, and their limited repertoire.
In addition, the council has set out zones, in which tighter restrictions will be imposed on street performers.
In the red zones, identified as areas “of highest detrimental impact”, such as outside the Natural History Museum, acts that use musical instruments will be banned, but mime and living statues will be permitted. Clowning will be allowed, excluding singing, as will theatrical performances. However, acts can consist of no more than two performers in these areas.
Busking and street entertainment will be permitted in purple zones in accordance with the new code of conduct, but will restrict acts to three performers. Buskers breaching the regulations will be subject to fines, likely to be in the region of £100.
There will be a public consultation on the proposals later this month.
Kensington and Chelsea council’s lead member for streets, planning and transport, Will Pascall, said: “We need to strike a balance between what works for both residents and street performers. Our goal is to ensure that street entertainment doesn’t impact negatively on the quality of life for residents.”
He added: “Our proposals to regulate busking were created after a full consultation with local people, businesses and representatives from the busking community. We will continue the conversation around the current proposals and test how they will work in practice.”