Iconic Manchester Music venue, Night and Day will return to court this week in the hope that Manchester city council will drop a noise abatement notice following a noise complaint from an adjacent flat 18 months ago. The two date hearing starts on the 21st March at Manchester Magistrates Court. Night & Day Café has been a beloved part of Manchester’s music scene since the early 1990s and has hosted a plethora of well known bands as they rose to fame, including Elbow, Arctic Monkeys, Wet Leg and Kasabian.
Jennifer Smithson who, inherited the business from her father, said that she is worried that if the notice is not revoked after this two-day hearing, then the Night & Day could be at risk of closure. Although the noise ban only affects DJ sets after midnight, the club nights are essential to the venue’s financial survival. She said, “To make matters even more incomprehensible, since the abatement notice was issued and the complainant has moved out of their flat, there have been no further noise complaints.“
During the last court case, Smithson said, “I can’t understand why the council thinks Night and Day have done something wrong….I’m at a loss as to why I’m sat here in a courtroom,” she said, “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.“
Speaking of the plight of Night and Day, grassroots venues and the Future of the Industry Tim Burgess said
“Grassroots venues are facing challenges from every direction but people moving next door thirty years after they were established and moaning about the volume possibly tops the list in terms of ridiculousness. This is about taking a stand – not just for Night and Day but all the venues that we love. Hoping common sense can prevail”
Mrs Smithson told City Magistrates the thought that Night and Day could be taken away was “absolutely terrifying”. The court was told that the residents moved in during the pandemic and complained about the noise levels on the first night that the venue reopened in July 2021.
Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd said there had been a planning “failure” and the council “needs to step in” and buy the property to resolve the issue. Mr Davyd, whose organisation supports music venues across the country, told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours that while he understood the legal case was ongoing, “we need to have a practical solution to this…We have a premises that can’t be occupied, we have a venue that can’t be lost,” he said. “We want to work together to make things good for residents and venues.”
He said the bedroom in the neighbour’s property was “right next to the stage [and] literally the other side of a wall. This is really a failure of the planning process. “I’m afraid the logical conclusion is the city council needs to step in. They need to buy this flat.” It could be used by touring musicians.
Ben Smithson started a petition which now has over 98 thousand three hundred signatures addressing this issue on change.org. He wrote
“We ask for Manchester City Council Licensing to remove our Noise Abatement Notice and for the Council to address the real issue here which is that housing with ill-considered planning and construction has been approved and built next to a pre-existing live music business. Night & Day is located at 26 Oldham Street. Over the past 15 years, flats have been built or existing buildings converted to flats around us with no real thought or consideration to the pre-existing business, building and what it does.
We also ask not to be labelled us as a ‘nuisance’. We believe we are a real cultural asset to the city of Manchester, the North West and to the UK as a whole. We believe we are a key part of Manchester and are very proud of what we do and have achieved. During lockdown, we were fortunate to receive Arts Council funding for being recognised as a place of cultural significance and also an Expanded Additional Restrictions Grant for Cultural and Entertainment value from Manchester City Council.
Night & Day turned 30 years old in November 2021. Despite us having been served a Noise Abatement Notice several years ago, fighting our position and surviving, despite the venue being shut for the past year and a half due to the pandemic, re-opening again and only just recently getting back to what we do, we’ve now been presented with this new second notice. We are devastated by this action served upon us. Help us to keep the venue open!!“
Business owner Jennifer Smithson is surprised and disappointed that the council has refused to take responsibility for the root cause of the problem She said, “We just want to get on with our lives and our business and keep Night & Day alive for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone in Manchester and beyond.”
Night & Day has recently been shortlisted for a prestigious Music Week ‘Best Grassroots Venue in the UK’. Jennifer and her family hope to continue operating and contributing to the local and national music scene as it has done for the past 32 years.
Similar stories have been heard up and down the country with music fans objecting to planning applications for domestic properties next to Grassroots music venues. Recently the Prince Albert in Brighton saw objections to planning application for holiday lets next to the venue, after beloved venues like The Freebutt and Blind Tiger were shut down after new housing on their doorstep led to noise complaints The Music Venue Trust, which has been at the forefront of many recent campaigns to protect music venues, has called the proposed domestic building next to the Prince Albert “fundamentally flawed”. The music charity lodged an early objection which insisted that “the application must be refused in its current form”.
Many hope that the Night and Day Cafe will be successful in their court case this week as the fight continues to save grassroots venues across the UK.