A south Manchester estate which is densely populated with students has been described by residents as a ‘drunken, drugged up conurbation’ with a 24/7 party atmosphere. Long-term residents of the Fallowfield Brow area say they are ‘frightened’ to be out at night and some have moved elsewhere as a result.
They are often woken up from their sleep by the ‘giant noise fest’, councillors were told this week, and churchgoers regularly report finding broken glass, vomit and litter on Sunday mornings. The comments came after a new Go Local convenience store in Wilmslow Road applied for an alcohol licence.
The former kebab shop has been used as a convience store for months, opening until 3am. The new owner, Umar Kaleem, originally applied for a licence to sell alcohol until 4am, but this was later cut back to midnight.
Speaking at a town hall hearing on Monday (January 30), residents said their objections were not about the store itself. But they argued that the area would suffer if a new off licence opens, making alcohol even more readily available.
Nick Roberts, who lives in Landcross Road, told the licensing panel: “I’m at the very end of my tether”. He said: “Make no mistake, the Fallowfield Brow area is now nothing more than a party-club-fested, drunken, drugged up conurbation, it’s fit for no human life or existence and becoming one giant noise fest.
“People to and fro, taxis to and fro, shouting, screeching, hollering, yelling, music pumping out ad finitum, from early evening until 6am in the morning. This premises will just create added noise disturbance which will obviously be extended beyond what is already being suffered by the local residents.
“Particularly in the light of what’s been happening in the vicinity of Fallowfield – a murder, serious assaults – it quite frankly beggars belief. It is just another cynical outfit, here to exploit the get down 24/7 party-club atmosphere that Fallowfield has now become.”
‘Not a normal suburb’
Speaking on behalf of Fallowfield Community Guardians, Sue Hare said alcohol is a ‘big part of the problem’ in the area. She said: “It’s not a normal suburb. It’s so highly occupied by students in the number and the make up, that the businesses in Fallowfield are very geared to the students and alcohol is such a big part of that which causes public nuisance. The impact of that nuisance is really sorely felt by the people who live there – families, children, older people.
“The ones of us who live there all year round and pay council tax are really, really impacted. I can’t emphasise enough how strongly we feel about the thought of another off licence being added to that row of shops.”
The objector also said that the situation is now ‘so awful’ that people feel frightened to be out at night. She added: “It’s caused many members of our group to leave their homes because they’re in bed, people are walking past, shouting, yelling, screaming, drinking, smashing glass and waking them up.
“They can’t sleep and they just can’t cope with it. They’ve had to move. We’ve lost many members of our residents group. They don’t want to move because they love the community spirit, but they just can’t cope with the mental stress of losing sleep, walking their kids to school in broken glass, finding drugs everywhere.”
Manchester city council’s licensing team also objected to the application, arguing that the area already suffers from anti-social behaviour, litter and crime. They argued that another store selling alcohol in this area would exacerbate issues.
The local authority has previously aimed to address these issues by only allowing new late night premises licences to be granted in the area in ‘exceptional circumstances’. This policy was extended in 2013 to include the Fallowfield Campus where student halls of residence Owens Park is located.
However, the licensing panel was told at the start of the hearing that the cumulative impact policy is now out of date. A full review of the policy is expected to be presented to the licensing committee in early March.
Speaking on behalf of the University of Manchester, Brendon Jones told the panel that allowing another shop to sell alcohol in the area would undermine the work the university does to tackle bad behaviour among its students. But speaking on behalf of the applicant, Sarah Clover said that the alcohol licence would give the council more powers to address any problems with the store.
The barrister explained that the store will only be allowed to use the Go Local brand if it has an alcohol licence, but the store would lose it if it attracts issues. The store has also agreed to shut at midnight if it is granted the new licence.
She said: “I hear the problems. I’m not arguing with the problems, but I’m here to say that refusing a Go Local franchise is not the solution to the problem.”
The licensing panel adjourned after the hearing to make a decision. However, Manchester city council is yet to confirm whether the licence has been granted.