A Manchester music venue has recently found itself the subject of a noise abatement notice by Manchester City Council, threatening its future as a result. The venue, called “Night and Day” has been responsible for hosting many well-known music artists over the years, including Arctic Monkeys, Elbow, and Ed Sheeran. However, its future is now at risk after a neighbour who moved into an apartment next door during the quiet of the Covid lockdown made a noise complaint to Manchester Council.

 

The residents complained about the levels of noise on the night that the venue reopened in July 2021. The venue was subsequently issued with a noise abatement notice in November 2021 and is set to face a court hearing to determine the outcome this week.

 

Background

 

The UK has some relatively strict rules about noise when it comes to its night-time economy. While many cities around the world have a thriving night-time economy, businesses in the UK are often restricted by rules such as having to close early. Unlike other major cities around the world, it cannot be said that the UK has a true 24/7 city.

 

Major cities like Manchester and London have faces significant challenges around having to balance the interests of both businesses and residents. In fact, Manchester City Centre’s population has grown from around 500 in 1990, to a projected 100,000 in 2025. This subsequently means that businesses are under greater pressure than ever before to ensure that resident complaints are kept to a minimum.

 

But what happens if a business is issued with a noise abatement notice and what are the range of possible punishments? Keep reading to find out.

 

What is an abatement notice?

 

Noise abatement notices are issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 79, and are investigated in the possibility that the alleged offender could be a ‘statutory nuisance’. They require that the noise stops or reduces its occurrence. In some cases, the noise-making equipment can be seized.

 

The following reasons are included in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as potential statutory nuisances:

 

  • The state of a premises (but not eyesores which need to be referred to the Planning Department)
  • Smoke emitted from a premises (but not smoke from a chimney in a Smoke Control Area)
  • Fumes or gases emitted from premises
  • Dust, steam or smell from an industrial, trade or business premises only
  • An accumulation or deposit
  • Any animal kept in such a place or manner (does not include wild animals)
  • Noise emitted from premises
  • Insects in industrial, trade or business premises only
  • Artificial light emitted from premises

 

The Night and Day case discussed in this article comes under “noise emitted from premises”. However, it is important to note that there is a quite a high threshold for this to be issued in the first place. The statutory nuisance cannot just be something ‘annoying’. It must be something that causes an unreasonable and considerable nuisance with the use of a home. It can also be something which injures health or is likely to injure health.

 

The issue which arose in this case came as a result of a bedroom sharing a wall with the venue, meaning that even higher pitched vocals could be heard. This is clearly an issue with the planning of the development, as the venue had been there since the early 1990s. Proper sound insulation should have been installed or taken into account at the time of the development.

 

Guitar player

 

What to do if issued with an abatement notice?

 

If this happens, you should try to reduce or stop the noise to the best of your ability. Clearly this may be difficult in a situation where you run a music venue for example. However, measures can often be taken to prevent noise pollution through proper sound insulation in many situations.

 

If you fail to comply with abating the noise, councils can carry out a range of penalties including:

 

  • A fixed penalty notice (FPN) – worth up to £110. This must be paid within 14 and an alternative to prosecution

 

  • Prosecution – if you do not pay your FPN on time or if the council opts not to issue you with one, you face potential prosecution and, if convicted, a fine of up to £1000

 

  • Seizure or confiscation of the offending noise equipment

 

  • Applying to the High Court for an injunction should prosecution be inadequate.

 

As a result, it is important that you seek legal advice. In cases like this, there is the option of appealing. You will have 21 days from when you receive the abatement notice to appeal to a magistrates’ court.

 

If no appeal is filed during this time, this means that you will be bound to the terms of the abatement notice for as long as you or your business are connected to the property in question. As a result, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice as soon as possible. In some cases, it may even be possible to reach a settlement with the council in question without going to court.

 

Our thoughts

 

Clearly, there has to be some kind of regulation when it comes to loud noise made by businesses at night. With city centres like Manchester becoming more residential, and the fallout from residents who moved into thriving night time areas during Covid, cases like this are likely to become more prevalent.  Businesses should be mindful that they are complying with the regulations, and that they apply for any necessary licenses.

 

If you have received an abatement notice from your local council, whether noise-related or any others, you should contact us as soon as possible. The consequences of not seeking legal advice can be disastrous for any business. We can help you establish what grounds of appeal you have, if any, and work to discover whether it is possible to reach a negotiated settlement with the council.

 

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