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Manchester music venue Night & Day Café facing closure as it continues to fight noise complaint

By | Published on Thursday 27 October 2022

Night & Day

Manchester music venue the Night & Day Café has revealed that it is continuing to fight a Noise Abatement Notice served against it by Manchester City Council last year. It says that the council is refusing to retract the notice, meaning that an appeal will likely have to go to court later this month. If it loses, owners say, it will likely mean “the closure of the venue altogether”.

In a statement, the venue explains: “Manchester City Council refuse to remove the Noise Abatement Notice they served on us last November. Night & Day have appealed the notice. Despite explaining to MCC Licensing and MCC council leaders that we have and continue to operate in the exact same manner as we have done previously and for the past 30 years, the council refuse to remove the notice”.

The notice is understood to have arisen from one single complaint, lodged by someone who moved into an adjacent building during lockdown while the venue was closed. Once COVID-19 restrictions lifted and live music started being put on again, the noise complaint was made.

While the onus is being placed on Night & Day to resolve the noise issues, the venue says that necessary measures to reduce noise from the venue were not put in place by developers of the adjacent building when it was converted into residential properties.

“We are of the understanding now that there is only a single complainant”, the statement goes on. “After receiving a copy of the MCC planning file for the redevelopment where the complainant lives, we were shocked and appalled to find that a crucial acoustic report had not been provided, nor acoustic works completed to the development before it was occupied”.

“This was a condition of the planning consent for conversion of the building next door”, it adds, “to ensure that residents were not disturbed by noise specifically from pre-existing entertainment businesses”.

Night & Day’s owners say that they have brought all this to the attention of council leaders and “feel strongly that Night & Day has been mistreated and that this is the council’s problem to resolve”, but the local authority still refuses to retract the notice.

“We believe there have been no further noise complaints that have arisen during the notice period”, it goes on. “Despite this, Manchester City Council refuse to remove the notice and continue to place the onus on Night & Day to resolve”.

If no resolution can be reached in the coming weeks, then the case will go to court for a three day hearing starting on 29 Nov.

“If our appeal is unsuccessful then this puts us at immediate risk of prosecution in the event of a noise complaint”, the statement concludes. “For us to comply with the requirements of the notice would effectively ruin Night & Day as a live music venue which would likely mean the closure of the venue altogether”.

This is not the first time Night & Day has been placed in this situation. In 2014 it was served with a Noise Abatement Notice in similar circumstances. Again, it related to complaints from a single person who had recently chosen to move into a property near the long-established music venue.

On that occasion, a petition gained 73,876 signatures and artists including Johnny Marr, Frank Turner and Tim Burgess voiced their support for Night & Day. Ultimately, the venue successfully defeated the action taken against it and remained open.

A new petition launched last year when the venue went public with its latest noise complaint gained 50,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. It now has more than 83,000 signatures, with the venue hoping to reach 150,000 in the coming weeks.

In the mid-2010s, incidents such as this became commonplace. Music venues would help to revive a previously lagging area of a city, which would then attract property developers. New flats and houses would then be built in the area without consideration for what was already there – ie the very things that had made that part of town attractive in the first place – meaning that when new residents moved into their inadequately soundproofed new homes they would complain.

As a result of campaigning on this issue, in 2018, the UK government introduced the ‘agent of change’ principle into planning law, which places the onus on developers to identify and mitigate potential future noise issues. This has led to a decrease in stories such as this, but clearly some issues still remain in this domain.

You can find the Night & Day petition here.

This story is discussed on this edition of our Setlist podcast.