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Residents or revellers: who is the city centre for?

Static responds to Noise Abatement Order by staging a debate. Tom Byrne hears more

Written by . Published on January 30th 2012.


Residents or revellers: who is the city centre for?

“WHAT is the city? Who is the city for? Who controls the city?” 

No, that is not the tagline for the new Batman film and the city in question is not Gotham. These are the questions that will have people scratching their heads at Static Gallery's Noise Debate, to take place this Thursday. 

Clubs are...the ones that have to be the most open and reasonable where change is concerned, while there's no responsibility or requirements put on the residents themselves - Paul Sullivan

It comes at a time when Liverpool's city centre is undergoing something of a transition.  Venue closures marked the back end of last year – most notably the Masque Theatre, a key platform for live music in the city – and the Contemporary Urban Centre. 

At the same time, the city council announced that a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) was to be applied on the Ropewalks, Cavern Quarter and Victoria Street areas. 

Paul Sullivan, Director Of Static, LiverpoolPaul Sullivan, Director Of
Static, Liverpool
This all equates to an uncertain future as to how Liverpool's 'night-time economy' (or 'lash scene', as some prefer to call it) will evolve. 

Static has its own motivations for hosting this event, beyond being concerned city dwellers: it recently received a Noise Abatement Notice from Liverpool City Council, the result of a complaint by a restless nearby resident. 

Paul Sullivan, director of the gallery, is hopeful that a resolution can be found through understanding between themselves and the complainant, rather than having to mount an expensive legal challenge to the notice. Much of Static’s operating income comes from gigs. 

But the bigger issue for him, he says, is the way in which the new CIP legislation will change the nature of the city centre. 

“The things that grab the headlines are the impact on noise, the impact on the nightlife, and, of course, crime; but I think the underlying reason for the city council's actions is more to do with wider ideas for what the city centre should be. 

“A lot of the arguments for change that Councillor Munby and the residents are putting forward are really good ideas; my problem is that they're using legislation to enforce it.”  This, Sullivan says, is at the heart of his decision to host the Noise Debate. 

Stevemunby-ImageSteve MunbyStephen Munby, city cabinet member for neighbourhoods,  is the councillor at the head of the push to have the CIP implemented and will be one of the panellists. 

His statement, following the approval of the CIP at the council's licensing committee meeting earlier this month, argued that the new measures had residents’ interests at heart. 

“I believe that now is the right time to introduce such a policy as it will give city centre residents more power to stop nuisance premises from opening in the first place, and allow all residents to shape what the city’s night time economy looks like…I am strongly supporting bringing in a CIP to cover the whole city centre, as this will future-proof any policy and give city centre residents the most influence.” 

Through the introduction of the CIP, new licensed premises must demonstrate how their business will positively impact the night-time economy in that area. 

Time will tell what effect this could have on the three areas already designated. Surviving venues, with less competition from newcomers, may be able to forge a clearer identity for themselves. 

Displacement of businesses can be a good thing, and by applying the CIP only in specific areas, the opportunity is there for other areas of the city centre, such as the Baltic Triangle, to thrive. 


 
“Our area is currently growing in terms of its activity. The A Foundation building is going to see regular events and our building is getting refurbished. We're still optimistic about the area picking up,” says Picket founder Philip Hayes. 

Static

Cllr Munby picks out London Road as another area that could benefit. His optimism is encouraging, but the risk is that the problems associated with nightlife will simply move with the trade, causing disturbances to residents in the new areas.

Munby's hope is that in the “current economic climate” such proliferation will not happen on an uncontrollable scale.  “As with all new legislation, the situation will have to be monitored,” he says. 

As the CIP-affected areas become increasingly resident-friendly, changes in the nature of the cityscape will be brought about. But, Sullivan  adds, the obligation to compromise is falling too heavily on the licensees, with little expected of the residents. 

“The idea of responsibility really is one of the key issues, and at the moment clubs are in a position where they're the ones that have to be the most open and reasonable where change is concerned, while there's no responsibility or requirements put on the residents themselves.”

Sullivan cites the work done at Static to insulate the property to lessen noise seepage, while neighbouring Georgian period properties with little or no insulation remain as such. 

Roscoe Street, Liverpool
Cllr Munby accepts there needs to be give and take on all sides. 

 “I think we need a sensible conversation about how we make the city centre work, there are a number of very entrenched polarities”. 

 “Just as clubs and bars can’t expect to have music played as loud as they want, residents can't expect it to be like a completely deserted area.” 

He believes that “most residents expect a certain amount of noise” and sees the debate as an opportunity to continue the dialogue that must take place if the new legislative measures are to be understood and properly used. 

A 2008 Local Area Study found that city centre residents cited their closeness to work and nightlife as one of the area's positive attributes.  Yet it also found that “the proximity to Liverpool's nightlife also was a major issue for local residents in terms of anti-social behaviour, late night noise, parking problems and litter”. 

The argument of who was there first falls flat on its face when you consider that, historically, the city centre has always been a place for people to live, as well as work and play. 

And there's the nub. If the city is to become an area that increasingly favours the peace and quiet of residents, where does the business part go? If the amenities move away as residents move in, then the area is no longer “Town”, but, as Sullivan puts it, “an urban version of suburbia”. 

There will, says Sullivan, be representatives from most key venues in the city as well as figures from city centre hotels in attendance along with interested residents from across the city. Other panellists are architect Doug Clelland and Daniel Hunt of Ladytron.

It may be too late to prevent the introduction of the CIP, but at least the conversation about what our city centre will shape up to be is alive and well. 

*Noise Debate, Liverpool: Urban Metropolis or Suburban Hinterland, Static Gallery, 23 Roscoe Lane, Liverpool L1 9JD, Thursday February 2. 6pm. Related reading from our archives here

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Pete mcgrainJanuary 31st 2012.

Don't get me started

Rice StreetJanuary 31st 2012.

It wouldn't be that miserable woman who had the Cracke back garden closed down for years, would it? Even now you have to go inside at 9pm.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Absinthe & TurksJanuary 31st 2012.

The Cracke's back yard is a special case. It only came into existence around the time of swelling student numbers and it was instantly filled with shreiking student bell-ends who couldn't hold their lager. On the other hand the houses on Hope Place have been continuously lived in for two centuries.

War OfficerJanuary 31st 2012.

Hear hear! Before the yard was there the sort of noisy behaviour that was to be exhibited out there would never have been tolerated inside the Cracke.
Landlady Margy did not suffer pissed arseholes gladly: they'd have been barred and even physically ejected.

Absinthe & TurksJanuary 31st 2012.

If people want to live in the city centre and they can afford to, that's fine. Developers have made fortnes turning commercial buildings in vibrant commercial and entertainment areas into overpriced flats for students and the rich over the last fifteen years where peviously there was no accommodation available even to normal people.

If however these chumps move to an address near the Cathedral and then complain about the bells then they ought to be taken out and shot.

The same principle should apply.

Salad DazeJanuary 31st 2012.

For whom is the city centre? In more or less descending order, or literally as Jamie Redknapp would have it, it's the Duke of Westminster, the pubcos, hedge funds, property developers, banks, estate agents, drunks, bad-tempered baldies, SUVs, music, residents. It's no accident and not inevitable that commercial activity is now impacting on residential areas: the 'market' (yes, that place where you get your pocket picked) is destroying the nature and location of both to extract the maximum short-term gain. Result? Planning mess, domestic misery, day- and night-time drunken chaos. Blair's cafe society is as benign as his entry into Baghdad. Cameron's love of The City (not our City) and war on the poor will make it worse. World Heritage and then a word with an 'h' inserted.

Town BoyJanuary 31st 2012.

No-one seems to take into account the destructive way that interesting and vibrant parts of town are being turned into no-go moribund areas as commercial and public buildings are turned into flats, shops and other amenities disappear and the area declines.

Dale Street is a shocking example of this modern form of urban blight. It's gone from being being a prime business area by day and entertainment area by night into a crumbling ruin, all in the last few years. Even at five o'clock the pavements that once thronged with office workers leaving work and people going to the pubs are nowadays depressingly empty.

Rice StreetJanuary 31st 2012.

Yes, agree Town Boy, but isn't that because there are no jobs any more. Looks like Geoffrey Howe got his way with managed decline for Liverpool after all

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

I live in the city centre and love the noise!! Mind u, I don't live right in the middle of duke street or similar! But its true in the main, the noise was there before the flats where!

AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

Thanks for highlighting this issue Confidential. I see, that as usual, radio and the rest have followed it up three days later!

DigFebruary 2nd 2012.

The people who live in the city centre knew what they were getting into when they moved there. They should just shut up or move.

Burbie WorldFebruary 2nd 2012.

Most of them are being shafted by buy-to-let landlords who helped get this country into the mess it is now in. So they are feeding off parasites and therefore deserve every loud noise that can be thrown at them

February 2nd 2012.

makes me laugh! its like those townies who cant cope with the noise of cows, farm animals and tractors in the countryside!
deal with it! youre not living in an a silent order in a monestary!
i admit no one wants disoderly drunks falling all over the place, and rubbish everywhere!
but i was born and brought up in Liverpool city areas, but i now live in the outskirts of Chester and we have noise,, and litter stuffed in my garden just from the local chippy !

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialFebruary 2nd 2012.

How did you manage to do that? The missing name????

Welsh StreetsFebruary 2nd 2012.

Oy va voi- people who buy property in the city and complain about noise at night are the mirror image of the sad headed townies who buy property in the county and them complain because there is mud on the road and it stinks of s**t. Reality bites vesus marketing sucks ? Well done Paul Sullivan - time this issue surfaced - otherswise the suburban inclination of the fearful might prove to be th edementors kiss

Darth FormbyFebruary 3rd 2012.

Steve Munby is just after votes from his new constituents. He would agree with them no matter what. Over the years he's moved so far to the right he's now beyond the oyster fork.

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