Manchester pop-up beer garden cancelled amid ‘constant fear of being closed down’

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ShinDigger has axed its plans for the Secret Garden events at Talbot Mill.

A pop-up beer garden planned at an old mill this summer has been cancelled.

ShinDigger’s Secret Garden events which were set to take place every weekend in July and August at Talbot Mill will no longer be happening.

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It comes after the Manchester brewers secured a licence for the events despite opposition from council staff who raised concerns about noise.

The licensing officers also had concerns about health and safety at the former textiles mill on the edge of the city centre in Ellesmere Street which is being converted into around 200 apartments by developer Capital and Centric.

Councillors on the licensing panel gave the green light for the events to go ahead, but warned that council officers would be ‘watching you like a hawk’.

The brewers who submitted the temporary events notices were told that their speakers could be seized if there were noise complaints from local residents.

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Speaking at the town hall hearing on 16 May, ShinDigger co-founder George Grant said there would no be DJs – just background music under his control – and promised to make sure that punters would act responsibly at all times.

However, he has now confirmed that the events will not be going ahead.

He said: “It is my opinion that the city centre should be a vibrant place, hosting an array of exciting events.

“Our vision was to create a unique beer garden space for people to enjoy in the peak of summer, and to do that our focus would need to be 100 pc committed on producing an amazing venue.

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“We did not want to go ahead shrouded in uncertainty and under constant fear of being closed down.

“On a more positive note, we learned a lot from this whole process that puts us in good stead for future ideas.”

George explained that despite the getting go ahead, the licensing out of hours team can still issue a Noise Abatement Notice if it receives noise complaints.

If this were to happen, the company would either cancel the events, losing its ‘significant upfront investment’, or risk a long drawn out legal saga to continue.

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Talbot Mill in Ellesmere Street, Manchester. Pictured in April 2021. Credit: Google.Talbot Mill in Ellesmere Street, Manchester. Pictured in April 2021. Credit: Google.
Talbot Mill in Ellesmere Street, Manchester. Pictured in April 2021. Credit: Google. | albot Mill in Ellesmere Street, Manchester. Pictured in April 2021. Credit: Google.

ShinDigger offered to set a decibel limit, but this was rebuffed by licensing officers who can only operate on a subjective definition of ‘public nuisance’.

Tim Heatley, co-founder at Capital and Centric, said: “We were well up for ShinDigger decamping to our historic Talbot Mill to host their secret garden.

“As well as supporting a homegrown brand, it would have acted as a real pull to get people back enjoying city life for a limited run of summer socials.

“Whilst ShinDigger were grateful of the support from local councillors, as a small business, still recovering from the pandemic, they felt it too great a risk to potentially lose upfront investment in the space if the council received just one noise complaint and shut them down.

“They’d have been set up to fail from the get go.

“A real shame, but ShinDigger have epic beers, a loyal following and pioneering spirit.

“They’ll bounce back and we’re already looking at more opportunities to collaborate – watch this space.”

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