Co-op Live Manchester

Co-op Live Manchester is the £365m entertainment venue that plans to make Manchester the musical capital of Europe.

Co-op Live Manchester is the £365m entertainment venue that plans to make Manchester the musical capital of Europe.

City Football Group (CFG), the global operator of football and sports related business, and Oak View Group (OVG), the largest sports and entertainment developer in the world, are equal joint venture partners and investors in Co-op Live, along with Harry Styles as an investor. Together, they plan to deliver ‘one of the world’s most pioneering and sustainable venues that pushes the boundaries of live entertainment experiences and advances Manchester as an entertainment and leisure destination for people from the UK and around the world to visit’.

The construction of Co-op Live, next to the Etihad Stadium in east Manchester, is nearing completion and ready to host its first events in April 2024.

As the UK’s only music-first arena, Co-op Live lays claim to the largest floor space of any indoor venue, a significantly lower ceiling, and tiered seating that brings fans closer to the artist.

Cutting edge visual technology, exceptional acoustics and innovative sound bowl design aim to provide the best show possible whether standing or seated, in a space designed to welcome the biggest and most exciting global artists.

Legal Context

Planning permission for the project was first granted in October 2020, since when all necessary arrangements have been made for the grand opening of the venue in Spring 2024. One of the final essential permissions to be sought from Manchester City Council was a Licensing Act 2003 premises licence authorising music, dancing and the sale of alcohol and late-night refreshments. This step could only be taken once detailed consultations had been completed and all relevant operating plans were sufficiently advanced to be considered by the authorities responsible for preserving the safety and amenity of the venue, its occupants and surroundings.

The application as originally submitted received representations from the Licensing Authority (as a responsible authority), the Greater Manchester Police, Licensing Out of Hours, Trading Standards and Public Health. As a result of those representations, the applicant engaged with the Responsible Authorities (as well as with the local Ward Councillors) to amend their proposed operating schedule. The committee was presented with draft licence conditions as agreed with Ward Councillors and the conditions proposed in response to Responsible Authority feedback. A number of local residents and one Ward Councillor maintained their objections to the application.

In addition, the AO Arena confirmed that it did not object to the grant of the licence and only maintained its submissions in so far as was relevant to the promotion of the licensing objectives and the need for further conditions. Counsel for the AO Arena extensively addressed the Committee in submissions which included the following areas: the sensitivity of the location and hours, the importance of improved transport services, the impact of car use, the importance of a dispersal policy and the use and operation of the ancillary spaces. Expert evidence in support of those representations was given by Dr Philip Hadfield, Consultant to the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

In the event the committee considered the case advanced by the team from Co-op Live to be credible, finding that for the most part it was comprehensive. Where lacunae had been identified, they had been keen to remedy that and provide a response. Consequently, the committee announced that it was content to grant the application as amended, along with conditions set out in the draft operating schedule and further conditions proposed by AO Arena.

FTB Involvement

Three members of Francis Taylor Building were instructed in this case. One for the applicant, one for an objector (ASM Global) and another as Legal Adviser to the Licensing Sub-Committee.

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