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Night & Day noise abatement dispute remains unresolved

By | Published on Friday 7 July 2023

Night & Day

The dispute between grassroots venue Night & Day and Manchester City Council continues, after a court hearing that was due to take place this week failed to go ahead. According to reports, further acoustic testing at the venue is now planned for September which could mean there is no resolution of the dispute until the autumn.

The City Council issued a noise abatement order against the central-Manchester venue in 2021, based on a complaint made by a resident who moved into a property next to Night & Day during the COVID lockdowns.

Night & Day argues that complying with the order would force a significant change to its late night operations making the wider business commercially unviable. And, of course, the order is seeking to alter operations that have been underway at the venue for decades.

Not only that, but – as the venue explained in a Facebook post last week – “the source of this problem is that no acoustic consideration was given during the planning and development stages of the apartments next to the pre-existing venue N&D. This is confirmed within the apartments planning file held today at MCC Planning Portal”.

The dispute initially got to the magistrate’s court in Manchester last November. After a pause, the hearing was meant to resume in January, but that was postponed to March to allow talks between the venue and the council to continue. At the March hearing the case was again adjourned with the judge ordering that more acoustic testing of noise levels at the venue be carried out.

The case was then due to return to court on Tuesday. But that didn’t happen in order to allow further out-of-court discussions between the venue and the council. Those discussions didn’t reach any agreement, so the case was due to resume in court yesterday with both sides appearing via video link. However there were then technical issues that stopped that from happening.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the court hearing has been formally adjourned to 21 Jul. However, yet more acoustic testing will reportedly take place in September, which means the next court hearing proper may not take place until later in the autumn.

A spokesperson for Night & Day told MEN: “Night & Day and its legal team have had a number of meetings this week outside of the courtroom with Manchester City Council. We went into these meetings in a positive and constructive manner, with the hope of moving things forward”.

“Unfortunately the council have now asked for yet another round of acoustic testing”, they added. “It feels like we’re going backwards. We really don’t understand why these discussions and the testing didn’t happen before the noise abatement notice was served on the venue back in 2021”.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the council said: “Before talks this week both parties agreed to come together to engage in discussions regarding sound levels, with the council willing to make concessions so that a final and lasting agreement could be reached. We were hopeful at the start of the week progress could be made though, sadly, this was ultimately not possible”.

“However, the council remains entirely committed to reaching a settlement which recognises the needs of residents, allows us to meet our legal obligations, as well as allowing the venue to remain commercially viable. Given the trial is still live it would not be appropriate to go into further detail about the discussions which have taken place”.

However, “from the outset”, the spokesperson then insisted, “the council has said time and again Manchester’s music venues are an important part of the fabric of the city, playing a vital role in the night-time economy and in creating opportunities for new artists”.

“Recently the council announced a major and independent review into Manchester’s grassroots music venues and how the council and its partners can better support and champion them, while being considerate of residents and businesses and the council’s legal responsibilities”.

Which is all well and good, though if a venue as important to Manchester as Night & Day ends up being forced into closure, the council can undertake as many reviews as it likes, but any claims it makes about respecting culture in the city will lack any real credibility.