Manchester risks losing ‘vital organ’ in Night & Day cafe, says Guy Garvey

Elbow frontman criticises council after 30-year-old venue says noise complaints may force it to close

Manchester risks losing a “vital organ of culture” if its famous Night & Day cafe is forced to close because of noise complaints, the Elbow singer Guy Garvey has said.

The 30-year-old venue is facing a crucial court hearing this month after it was issued with a noise abatement notice by Manchester city council.

Night & Day, which hosted early gigs by bands including Elbow, Arctic Monkeys and Wet Leg, has said it could be forced to close after a complaint by a resident who moved in nearby during the quiet of the Covid lockdown.

The case has prompted a debate about the future of music venues in cities that are increasingly densely populated yet market themselves as vibrant and exciting places to live.

Garvey, whose band received their first two contracts after performing at the venue, said: “Manchester’s young musicians like everywhere else have faced a terrible time over the last few years. And to take one of these platforms away – these vital organs of culture – because of development …”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, Garvey said the Oldham street area of Manchester was a desirable place to live only because Night & Day opened in 1991 “when it was dirty and it was dangerous”.

He added: “To take it away so that it becomes a nicer place to live says that Oldham street is only for people that can afford to live there.”

Guy Garvey at the Night & Day cafe in 2004.
Guy Garvey at the Night & Day cafe in 2004. Photograph: David Levene/the Guardian

Just yards from Night & Day, a three-bedroom apartment is on sale for more than £440,000 – double the average property price for north-west England. Several other upmarket flats are advertised on the same street for about £300,000, far outside the grasp of the average Mancunian.

Night & Day will appeal against the noise abatement notice at a court hearing beginning in Manchester on 30 November. If it loses, the council would have the power to seize and confiscate equipment or apply for a high court injunction.

Manchester city council said: “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.”

Garvey accused the council of failing to ensure the flats were properly soundproofed – a claim the council rebuts. The council insists all planning regulations were met when it approved the development in early 2000.

A council spokesperson said it had received five complaints from four properties regarding noise since July 2021, and the noise abatement notice affected only after-hours DJ sets not live bands before midnight.

But the venue has said these music nights are essential for the business because people do not pay much to see live bands.

Garvey said: “The last two times this has happened they have come to a compromise with the Night & Day, which has involved them taking measures to soundproof the venue – they put a porch in and various other things.

“Long story short: it’s a mess-up on the council’s part which they keep trying to patch.”

A council spokesperson said it completed an initial acoustic report for the apartments and there was a recommendation for a second report – but this was the responsibility of the developer as it involved building regulations and not planning regulations.

He added: “The council is, and remains, supportive of the music scene in Manchester, which Night & Day has championed, but we have to comply with our duties in respect of statutory nuisance.”

Contributor

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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