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The famous Manchester music venue ‘Night & Day’  is appealing a noise abatement notice issued by the council in a case that may put the Agent of Change principle to the test.

The case has provoked a lot of interest with 94,000 people signing a petition asking for the notice to be withdrawn. It has been reported that the venue, which helped launch the careers of Elbow and the Arctic Monkeys, is now saying their business is at risk over a noise complaint from a neighbour who moved into an adjoining property during lockdown. The complainant lives in a flat in a warehouse that was recently converted for residential use.

The council is reported as saying it is supportive of the music scene in Manchester but the venue still needs to comply with its duties in respect of statutory nuisance. The venue, however, has indicated it has no problem with the development of the city centre, but feels that the council and the developers should consider pre-existing businesses in the area, and it is not wrong.

Under the Agent of Change principle, planning decisions should ensure any new development is appropriate for its location and that before planning permission is granted, any noise issues are mitigated and reduced to a minimum so as to avoid giving rise to significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life. In the context of existing businesses and community facilities, those facilities must not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development that arrives after them.

The idea is that an apartment block built near an established music venue would have to pay for soundproofing, while a live music venue opening in an existing residential area would be responsible for the costs of soundproofing.

Guidance on holding music events at your premises

If you hold live and recorded music events, it is vital that you keep an eye on planning applications in your area and report to the council straight away if you think new residents are likely to be affected by music from your venue.

The Agent of Change principle doesn’t mean a venue can indiscriminately cause a noise nuisance, and every effort should still be made to avoid noise emanating from your venue causing a nuisance. However, you might be able to save yourself a lot of problems if you make sure both the planning department and the developer of any proposed new homes near to you know who you are and what you do, and make sure the new residents are protected by requiring the developer to install soundproofing.

Interestingly, in the recent Government response to the House of Lords follow-up report ‘The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny’, it was acknowledged the need for coordination between planning and licensing, but the Government reiterated its stance that the systems are different with distinct objectives and approaches. The proposal by the Government is to include the Agent of Change principle within the section 182 guidance.

A decision on this case is expected to be determined in January and we will update this article accordingly.

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting one of our legal experts.


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