24 Kitchen Street, an independent music venue in Liverpool, posted on Twitter about fears for the venue after Liverpool City Council granted permission for windows to be installed to a building development next door to the venue.
Acoustic surveys on the venue have shown that the installation of these windows will most likely lead to noise complaints about the venue once residents move in in September 2020. This has caused worries for the venue, and they said in a statement on their Twitter: “As has happened with venues up and down the country, noise complaints get venues shut down.”
As of the time of writing, the venue has not had any noise complaints for current neighbours.
The council has also said that the venue will have to apply for TENs if they want to host ‘non-typical’ events, a measurement created after 15 minutes of noise recording taken by the council at the venue in September 2019 was classed as ‘typical’.
24 Kitchen Street also said in their Twitter statement: “In future, they are suggesting that we seek Temporary Event Notices (you’re allowed 12 per year), in order to host the lounder and more bass heavy music events (they use the example of a reggae concert). Going back through our programme from the last 12 months, we believe this would affect around 60-90 shows, spanning techno, punk and bass music styles. In any case, we already use most of our temporary licenses for outdoor terrace parties, and only have around three spare.
“This essentially restricts the scope of music we can do by style and genre, reducing the artistic and creative freedom on offer at Kitchen Street through which we have made our name. We are not prepared to accept this, and realistically would rather shut our doors than work under such restrictive conditions.”
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “24 Kitchen Street is a fantastic asset to the Baltic Triangle and Liverpool’s music scene. It’s for that reason that the city council has spent a huge amount of time working with the venue and the developer of the neighbouring scheme on understanding and resolving any acoustic issues.
“After a number of noise assessments and late night visits, the council is satisfied that the new residential building incorporates a sufficiently high-performance specification of acoustic proofing which would sufficiently mitigate against noise from typical events at 24 Kitchen Street.
“The city council recently adopted the Agent of Change policy to ensure more weight was given to music venues such as 24 Kitchen Street in cases such as this. And to ensure future relations between the venue and the residents is based on a healthy footing, the city council is also looking at a deed of easement which would provide legal assurances to the existing position of all parties concerned.”
The venue said: “Since we have not been proven to be a noise nuisance, it is unfair that we should have to chance and limit the way we operate to save a developer money. Liverpool is a Unesco World Heritage site for music, so it is ironic that the council is failing to protect grassroots and independent music in the city. Barely a month after the council have come out in support of Agent of Change, they are looking to sell us down the river.
24 Kitchen Street also published a timeline, explaining their perspective of the situation and launched the #savekitchenstreet campaign.
January 2017 – Liverpool City Council tells developers they must redo their Acoustic Survey as the first one underplayed 24 Kitchen Street’s noise output, taking measurements when the venue was open during a number of events to build an accurate idea of the venue’s legitimate noise output.
2018 (exact date unsure) – LCC tell the new developers (brought in as the property changed hands) that if they can prove the venue is too loud in existing residences, it will strengthen the argument for the requested relaxation of acoustic insulation standards.
October 2018 – Developer publishes noise survey arguing that 24 Kitchens is 7dB too loud at bass frequencies, therefore their acoustic insulation assumes a 7dB reduction from the venue.
January 2019 – 24 Kitchen Street’s meet with a developer and explain that whilst they are willing to resolve the issue, they do not believe they should be responsible for reducing the noise output, and will be seeking expert guidance into the issue, and investigating it further.
May 2019 – 24 Kitchen Street’s publish a report arguing that LCC have not proven that the venue is a nuisance to existing residences. For the council to prove it is, they would have to gain access the flats/houses nearby in order to get an accurate reading. They were unable to do this, despite their efforts, as there were no active noise complaints. A survey done by the venue showed that they absolutely would receive noise complaints if the building work goes ahead as planned.
September 2019 – Liverpool City Council measure noise from a nearby resident’s front room after noise complaints from an outdoor terrace party hosted under ten in June. There is no noise issues, and so the complaint is dismissed. The council takes measurements from inside the venues for less than 15 minutes, assuring that these measurements are just as a reference, and that they will not be used against the venue.
September/October 2019 – Developer installs windows and other acoustic measures designed with the assumption that the venue will reduce noise output by 7dB, without planning consent.
October 2019 – Liverpool City Council publicly states that they will be endorsing the Agent of Change Principle, meaning that the person or business responsible for the change (i.e. the new developer) us responsible for managing the impact of the change.
3 December 2019 – Liverpool City Council email 24 Kitchen Street’s saying they will consider the noise levels recorded inside the venue on in September 2019 as ‘typical’, and that for ‘non-typical’ events the venue should apply for Temporary Event Notices (TENs). 24 Kitchen Street’s reply, stating that this is ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ as up to 50 per cent of their programme could be classed as ‘non-typical’, including most punk, bass and techno music events. In addition, a venue can only apply for 15 TENs per year, and the venue already applier for around ten per year for terrace parties and festivals.