Tensions over noise from late-night events in Digbeth have resurfaced after parties in the Custard Factory’s outdoor areas caused local residents to endure sleepless nights.
Birmingham City Council is investigating noise nuisance complaints about music events staged under the railway arches at the edge of the arts and business complex on Gibb Street.
It is understood at least six people living nearby have complained to the council, whose officers have registered a “statutory nuisance” from noise escaping from the complex – the scene of four shootings this year.
The development raises fears of a repeat of the noise abatement order served on the Rainbow pub in Digbeth, which sparked a mass outcry and prompted UB40 to play an intimate gig in support of the venue.
But despite the complaints, the company that stages the events at the Custard Factory is adamant a change in focus away from outdoor night-time events and better consultation with residents won’t take things that far.
A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said: “The space in question under the railway arches is not a permanently licensed venue like a pub; it is licensed under a temporary event notice, on an event-by-event basis.
“The various events are put on by different organisers who are individually responsible for any disturbances arising from their event.
“We are investigating noise nuisance complaints so that action can be taken on the most appropriate person(s).
“In the interim, we have agreed with West Midlands Police that any event can be closed down immediately on the night if council officers witness a noise-related public nuisance.”
Digbeth resident Darren Hayward said he had been regularly kept up all night by outdoor events held at the Custard Factory. He has been living in his property for six years, but noise had never been a problem until events started to be held under the railway arches on the edge of the Custard Factory.
Mr Hayward said at least five other people he knew of had complained about the noise.
“It was so loud in our apartment – above conversation level,” he said. “We got to the point where we have suffered for a year most weekends as we can’t sleep. It’s been very distressing.
“We want to move because of this.”
But the company which owns the Medicine Bar and Space2 venues – Soul Factory – was adamant the Rainbow’s noise abatement order would not be repeated at the Custard Factory.
Soul Factory director Simon Jones said the firm was working with the council on the noise issue, promising there would be no further road closure events – the type which is understood to be behind the complaints – without the consent of local residents and the Custard Factory.
Nightlife at the Custard Factory has been dogged by controversy over the past few months.
In June four people were shot at an urban music night and, at a New Year’s party, police were called amid scenes of overcrowding and panic.
Mr Jones said the new focus for events at the Custard Factory was on rejuvenating the area’s day-time economy, with plans to use the space under the railway arch for a market along the lines of London’s Portobello Road or Camden Market instead of for late-night music.
“It’s the changing nature of Digbeth and the changing nature of the Custard Factory. We want to be an asset to the area,” he said.
“We have been there for 15 years making a lot of noise and we haven’t created a nuisance for people. We didn’t think our noise was travelling to where there was residential. It just seems to be in the last four or five months that it has been brought to light.”
Meanwhile, one of Simon Jones’ other companies, Factory Events, which organised big events at the Custard Factory, has been liquidated following a winding up petition served by the taxman.
But B9 Events and Soul Factory, also run by Mr Jones, are still in operation, with B9 Events continuing to put on indoor nights at the venue.