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Night & Day noise abatement notice court case begins

By | Published on Wednesday 30 November 2022

Night & Day

The court hearing to consider the noise abatement notice served against Manchester venue Night & Day got underway yesterday.

Manchester City Council served the notice last year following a complaint from one of the venue’s neighbours, a person who moved into a residential property adjacent to Night & Day during the COVID lockdowns.

While it’s always annoying when people move into a part of a city famous for its nightlife, and then complain about that nightlife, the Night & Day saga is all the more annoying because when the residential property where the newish neighbour lives was redeveloped, the local council reportedly anticipated the noise issues and told developers to mitigate the problem as part of the building work. But that planning condition was seemingly neither followed nor enforced.

The Night & Day Café was founded in the early 1990s by Jan Oldenburg. When it opened, the part of Manchester in which it is based was, in the words of a recent Observer article, “dangerous and dilapidated”. It was cultural institutions like Night & Day that turned Manchester’s Northern Quarter into a particularly vibrant part of the city, where lots of people now want to live.

The council has been under considerable pressure from the Manchester creative community and the wider music industry to revoke the noise abatement notice, but so far it has refused, hence why the matter is now in court. If the notice is kept in force, it’s likely that Night & Day will have to close, because it would require the venue to alter its operations in a way that would make the whole enterprise commercially unviable.

Night & Day is now run by Oldenburg’s daughter and her husband, Jennifer and Ben Smithson.

According to the BBC, Jennifer spoke in court yesterday, confirming she remains “shocked” that the future of the legendary venue has ended up being decided in court. She told city magistrates hearing the case: “I can’t understand why the council thinks Night & Day have done something wrong. I’m at a loss as to why I’m sat here in a courtroom. We’re running our business in the same way for 31 years and I thought the council would be really proud of what we’ve done for the city of Manchester”.

Acoustic expert Peter Rogers also spoke in court, confirming that he had observed sound engineers at the venue and was satisfied they were doing all they can to reasonably keep noise levels down. The issue, he added, was that the necessary measures were not taken when the residential property next to the venue was redeveloped all the way back in 2000.

He explained, the BBC report continues, that “a bedroom which shares a wall with the venue has such ‘poor’ sound insulation that even the higher frequency vocals could be heard and the only way to address the issue would be to effectively create a ‘box within a box’ in the flat to insulate it from the sound”.

That would have been an expensive solution, he conceded, but something like that should have been implemented when the redevelopment occurred.

The hearing will continue today.