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Policy changes planned to prevent another Night & Day noise saga

A planning principle designed to stop a repeat of rows like Night & Day’s court battle IS in a landmark blueprint for Greater Manchester.
Night & Day

The Northern Quarter bar’s lengthy legal battle came to an end on Monday (March 18) after a judge ruled it had caused a noise nuisance to a neighbour with its early-hours DJ sets.

However, the ruling said the measures to curb its effects should be those designed by an expert employed by Night & Day.

Night & Day planning saga

Key to the case was District Judge Margaret McCormack’s finding that the venue’s club nights were not ‘common and ordinary’ use of the premises, and they were also ‘not being conveniently done’.

She also ruled the Northern Quarter is a mixed-use area where ‘in an ideal world, a balance would be able to be struck in the ability of the resident to enjoy their property and the venue to operate as a going concern’.

The Places for Everyone plan

One day after the ruling, Andy Burnham confirmed the Places for Everyone plan (PfE), a mammoth document which sets out the city-region’s vision for development until 2039, includes a key policy designed to prevent rows like this one beginning ‘in its fullest form’.

The ‘agent of change’ policy is already in national planning guidance and says an organisation bringing new land use to an area is responsible for managing the impacts of that change to the surrounding properties.

The Greater Manchester Music Commission

That’s a move which has been called-for by the Greater Manchester Music Commission, alongside ‘a more measured approach to environmental health dialogue and enforcement’ by individual councils, it said in a statement issued on Tuesday (March 19).

The Commission added: “It’s welcome news that Night & Day can operate as they have done for over 32 years, albeit with conditions in place.

“But we are left with a local system that is unable to recognise and correct historic poor practice, one that spends excessive amounts of public money, one that puts venue operators and their teams under huge emotional and financial pressure, and one that can make wildly unpopular decisions while bizarrely misreading the cultural essence of an entire city.

“And sadly, one that could still lead to the permanent closure of any part of our cultural and night-time landscape.”

Andy Burnham

Speaking on Tuesday, the Mayor confirmed to I Love Manchester that PfE does include the aforementioned principle but added lessons can be learned from the saga.

“I think one of the issues is, it’s under a law we didn’t design here and that’s presented challenges — although I am sure there’s learnings from everybody really on how we take on board what’s gone on and the ruling that’s been made,” he said.

“Agent of change is part of the Places for Everyone policy we are hoping will be adopted by nine out of our 10 councils, a number already have adopted it.

“We are beginning to change the policy landscape at a Greater Manchester level to back up what we’ve been saying about Night & Day and the other venues we value so much.

“We are not in any way complacent about this, the music infrastructure is one of our critical regional assets — and I put it in that type of language. It is an essential infrastructure because it supports our economy in so many ways.

“People travel here, and spend money here, because of it. It’s a massive magnet for our economy. You have to start talking about it in that way, so it’s not seen as a fringe thing.

“You have to get more serious about protecting grassroots venues, rehearsal spaces.”

Mr Burnham added the Music Commission was ‘working on’ protecting grassroots spaces, but added ‘there’s definitely more than can be done’.

A potential headache?

One potential headache for the agent of change, however, came in the form of Judge McCormack’s ruling — which said it has ‘no application’ in the NIght & Day case.

“I have determined that a statutory nuisance existed, exercising the appropriate tests and as [case law] confirms ‘planning laws are not a substitute or alternative for the protection provided by the Common Law of Nuisance, or in this case the ‘safety net’ of Statutory Nuisance,” she said.

To support an awesome grassroots venue and catch a show at Night & Day visit their website by clicking here

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