Noise Debate
What is the city?
2 February 2012, 6pm

Noise Debate
Liverpool: Capital of Culture?
Urban Metropolis or Suburban Hinterland?

6pm Thursday 2 Feb 2012 (5pm doors for drinks)
Static Gallery, Liverpool, L1 9JD.

Chair: Doug Clelland (Architect)
Panel: Daniel Hunt (Ladytron) Councillor Steve Munby (City Council).

Due to strong interest in the debate, we advise you to email to confirm attendance, as entrance will be on a first come first served basis.

At the start of December 2011, Static Gallery received a Noise Abatement Notice from Liverpool City Council, a statutory notice requiring Static to NOT allow any further ‘Loud Amplified Music’ in its city centre premises.

In light of receiving the Notice, Static Gallery have decided to host a debate on the 2 February 2012 in order for the key issues to be aired in a public forum.

Paul Sullivan, Director of Static Gallery states

“We have been given the notice after the city council received a number of complaints from residents about live music events held in the gallery. Without going into the mechanics of what a notice is and what the definition of ‘Loud Amplified Music’ is, its clear to me that If a place like Static can’t hold music and experimental sound events within the remit of its license, then there needs to be a serious debate about what exactly we want our city to be. There is a real worry that the city’s cultural eco system is being fundamentally altered, there’s a danger that the city will become like any other and forever lose its edge.”

What is the city?
Who is the city for?
Who controls the city?
What is Liverpool City Council’s vision for the City?

To shed some light on these issues, the chair Doug Clelland (Architect) will present a short series of ideas of what the city is and who is it for? In particular how the city accommodates the balance between public and private; group life and individual life. The panel of Daniel Hunt (Ladytron) and Councillor Steve Munby (Liverpool City Council) will then present short opening arguments for and against Noise in the city centre. The debate will then be opened out to the attending public. The debate will be recorded and transcribed on Static’s website.

From the moment Static Gallery advertised the debate on its website and social media sites, there has been a very strong and impassioned response. One side of the argument stress that the city centre should be a place of hustle and bustle, of noise, colour and spectacle 24 hours a day and that people who live in the city centre should accept this. The other side of the argument stress that although they want the city to be vibrant and busy, they also want to ensure that they should be protected from the noise of the city centre, in particular night-time noise. There is of course the middle ground.

The debate also comes at a very timely point as Liverpool Vision/Liverpool City Council has itself invited debate and discussion,

“as part of plans to develop a new Vision for the City Centre…..The new City Centre Strategic Investment Framework will set a new Vision for the next 10 years, to ensure further economic growth and transformational change in Liverpool City Centre, 10/1/2012”

This invitation for debate follows hard on the heals of news first published on the Seven Streets website ( that at a City Council meeting on the 4 January 2012,

“it was decided to agree to a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) covering the Ropewalks and Mathew Street areas of the city. This will not affect any bars already operating, but licences seeking permission to open new premises only. If the council grants a licence, the onus is on the new bar owner to show that their bar will enhance the night time economy offer in that area, and isn’t just more of the same type of venue already existing.”

The same article quotes Councillor Steve Munby’s reaction:

“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.”

Councillor Nick Small continued:

“The Committee agreed to recommend to the full Council Meeting on January 18th that the Council introduce a CIP covering the Ropewalks Area, the Cavern Quarter and Victoria Street. The effect of introducing a CIP would be to allow the Licensing Committee in future, when considering whether to grant a new licence, to take into account the broader impact that this could have on the area by increasing crime and disorder.”

“I think this is a very positive step forward for the development of the city centre as a place to live, visit and do business…Like many of you I would have preferred the CIP to take in a wider area because of the risk of displacement. However the Licensing Committee adopted a cautious view of how to proceed, wanting to ensure that any proposal was not vulnerable to judicial review, and therefore restricted the CIP to a fairly tight area where crime rates were relatively high. However if the full Council adopts the CIP it would be possible to extend the scope of it in future if evidence of displacement arose and I will be monitoring this situation very closely in future.”

This news will have been greeted with approval by residents of Ropewalks, the Cavern Quarter and Victoria Street, however, many of the business’s and hotels in these areas that rely upon night time trade will be looking on with more caution. It may also be possible that the “nuisance premises” will just open business’s in other areas of the city (displacement) and therefore there may be a proliferation of new bars rather than a reduction.

Daniel Hunt states

“Personally, I’ve been based in and around the City Centre for the best part of 20 years and experienced the improvement, particularly in the last decade. It is evident in how many now choose to remain to live, work and build community. I’ve also spent some years living in cities abroad where draconian licensing laws aimed at noise have been the blunt instrument with which the creative culture, and therefore quality of life, is diminished. This is usually an attempt to force not only a myopic, socially-conservative agenda, but also to satisfy those whose only interest in the area is value of property. The attempt to turn back the clock is not only misguided; for a city with more economic worry than most, it is suicidal.”

It is however clear from the councils new initiative that there is a determination from sections of the city council and the business and residential community to start to rethink the city as a much more family friendly place and to use legislation through CIP’s to enact elements of those new ideas. Noise Abatement Notices provide another form of control. But at what cost and is it possible? Opposition to a form of legislative urbanism will point to previous failed utopian social engineering projects and will argue that the public city is much more complex and organic for it to be zoned and controlled in this way.

One example of the complexity of the situation is demonstrated when you have the city councils tourism department promoting the city as a vibrant night time destination (an imperative for such a leisure/service centric economic model such as Liverpool) whilst other departments within the same council are being compelled to serve Noise Abatement Notices and potentially imposing restrictions on new social/leisure investment in zoned areas through its use of CIP’s (an imperative for a section of the business’s and residents who work and live in the city).

With these points in mind, the essence of the debate will be to ask the question and maybe provide some responses to just what exactly is Liverpool’s vision for its future?


Liverpool Vision

Doug Clelland/JIG Architects

Daniel Hunt/Ladytron

Steve Munby/Liverpool City Council

Seven Streets


Notes on panel

Doug Clelland

When not on the hoof, Doug Clelland divides his time between Liverpool and Berlin. He is Lead Architect at JIG, Emeritus Professor at John Moores University, and Visiting Professor of Cities and Architecture at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. He has widely published on matters related to urban living and its architectural props, and is at work writing into some of the enigmas of our situation.

Daniel Hunt

Daniel Hunt (born in Liverpool, United Kingdom) is the founder member,  principal songwriter/producer of the band Ladytron, and has 20 years experience in the Liverpool club scene & music community.

Steve Munby

Cllr Steve Munby, elected to serve Riverside, Liverpool since 1998 is now cabinet member for neighbourhood services in the new Labour administration.


Original Press Release 8 December 2011:

Liverpool: Capital of Culture?

Urban Metropolis or Suburban Hinterland?

In the week that saw the Masque Theatre close (one of Liverpool’s key music venues) and announcements that the Contemporary Urban Arts Centre would close in January 2012 and that the Ceri Hand Gallery is closing, Static Gallery received a Noise Abatement Notice from Liverpool City Council, a statutory notice requiring Static not to allow any further ‘Loud Amplified Music’ in its city centre premises.

Static will appeal the Notice at Liverpool Magistrates Court.

All scheduled events will not be affected and will continue under the legal decibel levels.

It seems the notice is the result of one complaint by a young professional who has recently moved onto Roscoe Lane, the adjoining Street to Static.

In light of receiving the Notice – potentially a hugely damaging instruction if it is upheld due to how Static has pioneered a variety of income streams through its events in order to support its artistic programme – we have decided to arrange a debate in late January/early February at Static Gallery.

The debate will use the issue of Noise in the city centre to ask the question: Just what is the 21st century city? In particular what is Liverpool’s vision? We will be inviting a series of informed speakers who are from both sides of the noise divide and a series of cultural commentators and urbanists.

If you wish to attend the event (spaces allocated on first come first served basis) or want to send any questions/relevant links or points of issue prior to the event so they may be raised please email:


Static Trading Ltd, Roscoe Lane, Liverpool, L1 9JD