A major new arts centre opening in Manchester this summer will be allowed to operate 24 hours a day despite neighbouring residents and local councillors raising concerns about noise. Factory International has been granted a 24-hour licence which allows alcohol to be sold until 4am every night of the year.
However, neighbours of the former Granada TV Studios site which will become the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival objected to the application, describing the opening hours required as ‘excessive’. In particular, they argued that selling alcohol until 4am would result in noise disturbances.
The flagship arts centre which is mostly funded by the government and Arts Council England is the largest investment in a national cultural project since the opening of the Tate Modern in 2000, according to the team behind it. Manchester City Council has also contributed millions towards the project with a further £25m requested last year due to the rising costs of construction.
Representing Factory International at a licensing hearing on Monday (16 January), Rebecca Lowe of Kuits Solicitors said the project’s funding deal requires a ‘rich diversity’ of events at the venue, and this could include late-night music. But she also assured councillors that the venue would not turn into a nightclub.
Speaking at the town hall hearing, she explained why the arts centre needs a ‘flexible’ licence. She said: “We can’t give detail of all the sorts of events that might take place at this venue over its lifetime because its very reason for being is to be groundbreaking, cutting-edge venue and to be a leading light in what is new in the arts and as such over the years there will rightly be some types of performances that take place at Factory International that haven’t been conceived yet.”
Deansgate councillor Joan Davies requested restrictions on the licence, suggesting the hours are reduced or the frequency of large events is limited. She also raised concerns about the 7,000-person capacity of the venue.
The application was approved with additional conditions limiting the capacity of the outdoor area to a maximum of 2,000 people and requiring a regular residents’ forum to be held to discuss any issues arising from the licence.