Pop-up summer beer garden plans at old mill may be scuppered over health and safety

Plans to create a beer garden at an old mill near Manchester city center this summer may be scuppered as the council raises health and safety concerns. Manchester brewers ShinDigger have applied to host the ‘Secret Garden’ events every weekend in July and August at Talbot Mill in Ellesmere Street.

The events would take place in the courtyard of a disused mill which property developer Capital and Centric plans to convert into around 200 apartments. As well serving booze from 1pm to 11pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, organizers are considering hiring DJs for the first and last scheduled events.

But licensing officers at Manchester council have expressed concerns about the noise created by the events as well as health and safety issues at the mill. The application to host the events – which officers have recommended to be refused – will be put to a vote by councilors at a licensing hearing next week.

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ShinDigger is now considering reducing the capacity of the events – currently 400 people – and closing earlier in a bid to find a compromise with the council. ShinDigger co-founder George Grant said: “We are aware a representation has been made by the Licensing Out of Hours Team.

“We have taken their feedback on board, and are open to reducing the capacity and having an earlier close time. We are hopeful we can reach an agreement with the Licensing Team which will address the concerns raised and we can proceed with the project.”

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In a report to the panel, the licensing and out of hours compliance team shared ‘serious concerns’ regarding health and safety after visiting the mill courtyard. Their representation also raises concerns about the noise created by the up to 400 customers entering and leaving the ‘densely populated’ neighborhood which has had a history of noise complaints since 2019 – 21 relating to the mill.

The courtyard at Talbot Mill

The team also claimed that the original application made no mention of DJs. They said: “From [our] experience, organizers of such events sometimes have trouble managing the sound levels from DJs and from our teams’ experience, DJs have been known to completely ignore requests from event organizers once they have the audience on side.

“There are no details on the application how sound will be managed at the event and no details how they intend to control volume levels.”

There has been some demolition and internal stripout work at Talbot Mill since 2019 – but there has been little activity on the site since, the developer says. Part of the courtyard is currently being used by vehicles working on a neighboring construction site which is not owned by Capital and Centric.

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Capital and Centric co-founder Adam Higgins said: “Talbot Mill is one of Manchester’s largest surviving textile mills, dating back to 1855. It’s a relatively forgotten spot on the edge of the canal basin that people can’t access and don’t really know is there.

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“Sat empty for years, we’re keen to open up the doors so visitors can experience the industrial heritage of the site, whilst supporting a local business. It’s been a torrid couple of years, so the collaboration with ShinDigger is all about revealing a hidden part of the city for summer get-togethers with mates.”

Applicant ShinDigger will have an opportunity to make representations to the council’s licensing sub-committee hearing panel on Tuesday, April 26 at 10am.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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