THE NOISE dispute between Northern Quarter bar and live music venue Night and Day and nearby residents has not yet been put to bed. Whilst the flurry of attention has quietened, the dispute still rages on.
"We really want to see the work we've been doing for over two decades to continue and for us to continue being a platform for musicians and showcasing great bands."
Confidential has covered the row in depth since it began in January 2014. From the initial petition (see here) to speaking to the complainant and council (see here), to reporting on the row going to trial (see here).
As the noise row continues and the three day court case is pushed back, we caught up with the complainant, Night & Day and an acoustic engineer...
The complainant (anonymity remains) said:
"The court case to address the abatement notice is the next step, and one that Night and Day’s legal team has asked for a three day case for. There is no need for a three-day case, even the council have argued that there is no need for three days.
"The council's night team have continued to come out and we can confirm it has got worse. One inspector even had to leave because she got a headache, she'd never heard it as bad. It's so loud that you can pick out tracks through the walls.
"Night and Day objected when our residential buildings were put up in 2010. I believe they are going to check all the plans and contest that there was not adequate soundproofing put in place. We've seen the plans and there's no gap.
"Both sides have employed acoustic engineers to come out and measure sound levels. Night and Day wouldn't let our engineer in, we let their engineer into our flat but reckon they just turned the volume down as he recorded.
"An engineer from DBX Acoustics came on a Thursday evening and recorded from 7pm until 12:30am. When a band is on the noise levels go from 20 to 35 decibels. The engineer said it shouldn't be that high, the bass is the problem and it needs a limiter. I've even managed to record some of the noise on my iPhone (below), the engineer said a phone shouldn't be able to pick the noise up.
"I've contacted other venues including Band on the Wall, Soup Kitchen, the Ritz and Roadhouse, they go into residents homes themselves to take readings and check noise levels. They work with the residents, not against them. Why can't Night and Day do this? It shouldn't have got this bad. This isn't the first time they've had these complaints either. It's disgusting that they think they can continue like this.
"The court case will be heard in October, a year since my first complaint. This case has become so high profile and sensitive that it can't be an instant decision. I know the council did discuss seizing equipment but instead opted for a licence review.
"I hate living here now, we've contemplated moving but don't want to be bullied out of our home. Personally I, but not my partner, want to see their licence removed. My partner believes they're a good venue and can be shown how to work with the community, but I can't see it. It's like living in a prison, you can't get away from it.
"A recent article on Mancunian Matters has filled me with hope. Other residents living nearby have started to come forward too. I can't urge them enough to come forward and make their issues heard to the Council."
Gareth Butterworth, promoter and booker at Night & Day, said:
"This is a stressful time for us as a venue. We really want to see the work that we've been doing for over two decades to continue and for us to continue being a platform for musicans and showcasing great bands. We want to continue working and promoting the community spirit of the Northern Quarter.
"Nothing has changed in what we do and we're very upset by this abatement notice. We're annoyed at the situation, it's definitely unfair and unreasonable. We have not turned the sound up, we have the same sound engineers and system we've always had. Anyway, if music is turned up too loud it sounds horrendous.
"DJs are not a new thing at Night and Day, we've always had them as do plenty of other bars and the volume is at an adequate level. This is the first official notice we have been served from the complainants block of flats.
"This is unreasonable, and it's unfortunately something that various other venues across the country are dealing with too. The Music Venue Trust is currently petitioning to have the Abatement Laws altered, so that disputes like this can't close small venues like us."
A message from DBX Acoustics, taking measurements on behalf of the complainant:
"Noise levels within the bedroom of the apartment when a 'noisy' band is playing increased by 10 dBA. In third octave bands, increases of 20-25 dB were measured for each third octave band between 40 Hz and 200 Hz (bass frequencies).
"Measurements have been made on multiple occasions and for different styles of music, including for bands where music was audible in the apartment, but not considered disturbing by the residents."
(dBA - an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear)
UPDATE 03/06/14 09:20 - Following the comments from both the complainant and the venue, Confidential has since received this information from August 2004 which suggests that, contrary to the statements, a similar noise complaint was received from the same residential block as far back as 2004. It appears the objection was dropped and that the venue had 'promised to made a number of improvements to reduce the noise' (see below).
UPDATE 03/06/14 16.44 - Night and Day have contacted Confidential to state that the 2004 complaint came from a building behind the venue, not from the current complainants building.
Follow Niamh Spence on Twitter at @missnspence