A Quiet Digbeth

One of the good things about gig venues in Digbeth is they don’t have to worry about the neighbours, because there aren’t any. A gig in, say, the Jug of Ale in Moseley in the summer months can resemble a sweat lodge thanks to noise pollution restrictions keeping the windows shut but the Barfly can keep the doors open letting the steam pour out into the night.

According to The Stirrer (warning – will resize your browser) this might soon change thanks to the influx of city living flats in the area, a theory given credence by the closure of the Fiddle And Bone after noise complaints.

The Stirrer’s contacts at a residents meeting in Digbeth last night report that “newbies” to the area who’ve bought flats in the Abacus Building on Alcester Street are now trying to take action against some of the established businesses there.

Air nightclub? The Medicine Bar? The wonderful Spotted Dog pub?

They were all the subject of complaints to the Environmental Health officer on the grounds of noise, even though they’ve all been trading for years before any of the residents moved in.

City living and mixed use complexes seems to be the cornerstone of urban redevelopment these days and I have a reasonable amount of sympathy for the notion. It keeps an area alive 24 hours a day keeping crime down and fostering pockets of community that will hopefully prevent the inner-city rot of previous generations. In this regard a Digbeth that has a significant residential population is not a bad idea.

But just as you wouldn’t expect people to live in an industrial estate and complain about the noise you shouldn’t do the same in an entertainment one. The thing about Digbeth / Eastside that I always think of whenever someone talks about regenerating the area is that it’s already alive. It might not look pretty to some eyes but there’s a hell of a lot going on there. It’s also has, I think, the largest concentration of live music venues in the city. Any commercial development should take that into account and work with it, not try to eradicate it with laws designed for the suburbs.

One of the special things about events at the Custard Factory like Supersonic is how they drain the pool and turn it into a huge outdoor stage with very loud music going on until the early hours. If that had to be stopped because people started living nearby and bitched about it the world will be a sadder place.


  1. Yep,

    It would be a shame if this happened. I live in Digbeth and have attended a residential meeting where new Digbethian residents- who obviously hadn’t done enough research about their new habitat, complained about noise pollution during the early hours.

    I think the contractors are also to blame for cheaply buidling these new flats- the walls are paper thin!!

    Ear plugs!!! Cheap and allow for a good night’s sleep.

  2. Vigs

    Do you ever get the impression that the new residents just want the kudos for being able to drop the fact that they live in Digbeth into conversation, but actually don’t have a clue what the area’s about? If they want peace, then it’s almost blindingly obvious that the ‘burbs are best for that…

    Keep Digbeth full of noise!

  3. abrinsky

    Unfortunately people also complain when they move into new developments near very long standing industrial areas.

    People just don’t seem to realise that ‘noise’ – or life as others would describe it – it par of that ‘city living’ that developers are pushing.

    But then I live out in the country where people in new developments also complain about noise, i.e. sheep, cockerels etc and again completely miss the point of living in the location.

  4. The sad thing is that this type of thing was more or less inevitable from the moment that it was announced Digbeth was being done up.

    ‘Eastside’ indeed. It’s a rare, rare day that ‘redevelopment’ means anything other than ‘gentrification’.

  5. Its ridiculous that this is happening in Digbeth (tho perhaps inevitable as has been said). Its bad enough elsewhere in the city – there are few enough good venues around, without any being shut.

    People are entitled to complain of course, but I guess its down to us – the creative types and music fans – to make our voices heard as well. If politicians get a number of complaints, but not comments of support, in a way their hands are tied.


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