NIMBYs are colonising the city centre and threatening to destroy much that makes their trendy homes trendy. Scarcely a week goes by without a local paper carrying a story of suburban people complaining about a developer’s plans to build yet more flats in their neighbourhood. But the suburban NIMBY is easily understood. They want family homes (but not those families who’s kids break your windows). Some are old enough to remember when their little piece of suburbia was blissfully free of bars and restaurants and so have a bit of a case against the invasion of happily childless and gardenless couples enjoying themselves on their doorstep.
Demography will defeat the suburban NIMBY. But the city dwelling NIMBYs defy all logic and threaten to bring boredom into the heart of the 24 Hour Party. This week’s City Life includes a long letter from the staff of Night & Day, one of the city’s longest running music venues and major contributor to the regeneration of the Northern Quarter. When I came to Manchester in the late 1980s this part of town was dominated by disused and derelict warehouses. Now its home to boutique shops, bars, restaurants, clubs and… homes.
The homes are the last part of the mix and some have been built next door to Night & Day. The developers apparently commissioned an acoustic report before building commenced, but ignored its recommendation that the new flats be insulated. Now some residents want the club closed.
On the other side of the city is Whitworth Street West, a long time centre for club land. Much of Whitworth Street West is flats now and one of the city’s most important and oldest clubs, the Ritz, is now surrounded. The Ritz is so old that it featured in classic film Billy Liar way back in 1963. Its new neighbours don’t like the noise.
Unlike (some of) their suburban counterparts, the city dwelling NIMBYs cannot claim they were first (and few were born before 1963) and none can convincingly claim not to have known about the problems of which they complain. With two bed flats in the Hacienda starting at £545,500, they’d get more for their money in a quiet suburb. Yet they prefer to colonise the city centre, even though they don’t like it, and then campaign to shut it down. The sad thing is they might just do it.