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Night & Day supporters urge Manchester City Council to rethink as noise dispute heads to court

By | Published on Monday 28 November 2022

Night & Day

Key figures from the Manchester music community have again urged the city’s council to withdraw the noise abatement notice it issued against the Night & Day Café as the legal dispute that could result in the closure of the key music venue heads to court this week.

Night & Day revealed last month that it is continuing to fight the noise abatement notice which was served against it by Manchester City Council last year. The notice was issued following complaints from one person who moved into a flat next to the venue during the COVID lockdowns. That person complained about the noise coming from the Night & Day Café once the lockdowns were over and the venue was open again.

While it’s always annoying when people move into a part of a city that is famous for its nightlife, and then complain about the nightlife, things are doubly annoying in the case of the Night & Day’s noise abatement notice. When the building where the complainant lives was most recently redeveloped, the property developers seemingly did not consider or mitigate future noise issues, despite that being a requirement of the planning permission provided by the local council.

“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”, the venue said in a recent statement.

So, basically, the council foresaw the future noise problems the redevelopment could create, addressed it in its planning requirements, and then failed to enforce those requirements.

The operators of the venue confirmed in their statement 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.

Unless the venue can now successfully appeal the notice in court, it will likely be forced to alter its operations in a way that will make the whole business unviable. Hence the threat of closure.

Making the whole thing even more annoying, Night & Day is widely regarded as one of the cultural institutions that sparked the revival of Manchester’s city centre that began in the late 1990s, transforming it into a place where people now desire to live.

In an article this weekend, The Observer notes: “In 1990, the year before Night & Day opened, only 500 people lived in Manchester city centre. In 2025, its population is expected to hit 100,000 – 75% of whom will have moved in since 2015”.

The city’s Northern Quarter, where Night & Day is based, “was dangerous and dilapidated in the early 90s” but “is now one of the most sought-after urban living areas in Britain. A penthouse apartment in the warehouse next door [to the venue] costs £440,000. Several other flats are advertised on the same street for upwards of £300,000 – far out of reach for many locals. The success of the area is thanks, its supporters say, to pioneers like Night & Day’s founder Jan Oldenburg”.

Night & Day has the support of some key advisors to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the regional government entity headed up by mayor Andy Burnham, and which has various responsibilities across the ten metropolitan boroughs of Greater Manchester, of which Manchester City Council is one. Both Sacha Lord – night time economy advisor to the GMCA – and Jay Taylor – Chair of the Greater Manchester Music Commission, a body set up by Burnham – urged Manchester City Council to reconsider its position on Night & Day via the article in The Observer this weekend.

Lord said he’d struggle to find a grassroots venue more important to Greater Manchester than Night & Day and urged the council to find a “common sense approach”. Meanwhile, Taylor said that the closure of Night & Day would be “devastating” for the region, adding: “With regards to the council, they should admit the mistakes that were made when that development went in and remove that noise abatement order, and then make good on that problem – which was a developmental problem, not a problem with the business that exists next door”.

Also quoted in The Observer article is Elbow’s Guy Garvey, who says that the dispute risks making the Northern Quarter like one of those “boroughs in London where only rich people can afford to live. Yes, they’re quiet and it’s all very Mary Poppins, but that’s not Manchester, that’s not Manchester city centre, and that’s the death of culture”.

Meanwhile Jeremy Pritchard from Everything Everything adds: “If Manchester cannot protect the Night & Day, it isn’t a music city”.

The City Council continues to insist it isn’t seeking to force the closure of Night & Day, telling The Observer: “It must be made explicitly clear from the outset that the council has never threatened to close down this venue, nor is there any legislation which would allow a noise abatement notice to be used to close a premises”.

Which may be technically true, except – Night & Day’s supporters would point out – the council is creating a set of circumstances where closure may be inevitable.

Making a “final plea” to the council this weekend, the Music Venue Trust wrote on Twitter: “⁩Your noise abatement action is going to close ⁦Night & Day if you win. You shouldn’t even be in court. Don’t throw away Manchester’s music heritage. Don’t throw culture under the bulldozer of development”.

We await to see how this week’s court hearing goes.