Noise Abatement Notice Amended after Night & Day Court Case

Night & Day, Manchester win court case against Noise Abatement Notice

A district judge has varied the Noise Abatement Notice, allowing the Northern Quarter venue Night & Day to remain open, but with noise limiters.

The council served the notice in November 2021, following complaints from neighbour residents. It has taken years for the dispute around the notice to finally be put to rest, resulting in a win for Night & Day, and therefore the whole live music venue industry.

Read on to find out more about Night & Day, the affect of the court case, and what their win could mean for other venues facing noise complaint notices.

Who was involved in the Night & Day Noise Abatement Court Case?

Night & Day is a part-café, part-music venue which opened in 1991. They are a popular historic live music venue in Manchester’s Northen quarter which runs club nights from 11pm to 3am. The venue has helped launch the careers of successful artists including the likes of Elbow, Wet Leg, Arctic Monkeys.

Night & Day was served with a noise abatement notice by Manchester city council following noise complaints from an adjacent flat. During the appeal, Manchester Magistrates’ Court was told that residents had moved into the flats during the pandemic; they then complained about the noise levels on the first night that the venue reopened in July 2021. The council has spent more than £60,000 since 2021 in a three-year legal battle with the music venue. The council said: “It is as a last resort and extremely rare for us to issue a noise abatement notice.”

Multiple neighbours of the adjacent flat had made complaints in the past, however the brunt of the publicity involved a couple who’s bedroom shared a wall with the stage of the live music venue. It was their frequent complaints which prompted the council to file a notice.

The couple were reported to have several meetings with the owners of the Night & Day venue, and discussed a noise reduction. The venue owners explained the late night offering comprised the majority of the business’s cashflow. The flat owners paid upto £16,000 in sound absorption insulation, but reported no effect. They then moved out the flat during the years of court case proceedings.

The Issue involving Night & Day:

The Night & Day venue has seen many complaints by residents over noise, however the council have served noise abatements notices in 2005, 2014 and late 2021, the latter resulting in the case in question.

The noise abatement notice required Night & Day to stop late-night DJ sets, losing a huge part of their income. They appealed the decision, and so a three-year wait began.

On 24 November 2021, the venue owners launched a petition calling for the removal of the notice, it reached 50,000 signatures in the space of a day. Celebrity artists came out in support of the venue, including Johnny Marr, Guy Garvey, Tim Burgess and northern band Blossoms.

Unofficially, Matty Healy offered to buy the noisy flat in 2023. Healy, lead singer of the 1975, was one of the many musicians who came out to support Night & Day – the venue posted a photo of him in November 2022. Unfortunately, the flat owners did not go through with the sale.

Night & Day argued Manchester City Council Planning approved the apartment back in 2000 in full knowledge that there would be serious potential for noise problems in this flat and before any resident moved in. The issue of noise and flats in city centres affects not only Night & Day, but all Manchester nightclubs, bars and music venues.

The Court Case between Night & Day and Manchester City Council:

Night & Day appealed agains the noise abatement notice. Night & Day’s representatives spent roughly £100,000 bringing the appeal; they had no choice as they explained the venue would face financial difficulties if the notice was upheld.

During preceedings, the judge ruled that the use of the flat next door was “common and ordinary”, but the nightclub operation of Night & Day was not.

Night & Day owner Jennifer Smithson argued: “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.” She also said: “I can’t understand why the council thinks Night and Day have done something wrong.”

The Resolution for Night & Day’s Noise Abatement Court Case:

In what can be seen as a win for music venues and the nightlife sector, the noise abatement notice was amended.

The noise abatement notice was varied in the venue owner’s favour, allowing the continuation of early-hours event but with the restriction of noise limiters. The venue must operate limit noise to a “reasonable, practicable level”. But who deems what is reasonable?

Sacha Lord has called on the government to change ‘outdated legislation’. He says: ‘It just isn’t right that under the law as it stands, one resident can complain enough to shut down a venue, creating jobs losses and affecting the whole supply chain’.

However the resolution is not a complete lack of face for Manchester City Council. Tradition and legislation dictated that they could not have simply dropped the case, instead this result shows they have done their due diligence and have found vindication.

Yet, this case has thrust a growing problem into the public spotlight. The “residential creep” on the country’s venues. Nightlife business are at risk of losing their licenses because of residential complaints – Clarity and better legislation needs to be provided.

The row has sent shockwaves through Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Once a derelict backstreet, the district is a shining beacon of bohemia and northern culture, with Night & Day lifted as it’s standard bearer.

Download our Guide on How to Manage Noise at your Venues, and Noise Complaints

The below booklet outlines measures to help reduce or control noise disturbance. The booklet also offers suggestions for management and operational styles, which could help properties that are not planning refurbishment or structural changes to control potential disturbance to neighbours or in-house residents.

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