The future of Bristol’s legendary live music boat venue and club Thekla is under threat from a nearby residential development.
The planning application, directly opposite the venue, has been recommended for approval by officers despite its own pollution control team warning of the need for a new and more comprehensive noise survey. The planning committee meets tomorrow (November 8) to make its decision.
“It’s vitally important that planners take into consideration existing venues when making decisions on new developments.” said Thekla’s general manager Alex Black. “The decision they take could potentially have a disastrous impact on the Bristol music scene and night-time economy. We’ve seen too many venues fall victim to residential developments and being forced to close.”
“If this development goes ahead with inadequate soundproofing, it would leave the Thekla vulnerable to complaints from residents about noise. The Thekla’s whole future is at risk," added Julie Tippins, head of compliance for venue owner DHP Family.
DHP is calling for the planning decision to be deferred to allow the second noise assessment to take place. Anyone wanting to show their support is invited to post on socials using #savethekla
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, said: "Sensible and adequately planned residential developments near to grassroots music venues like the Thekla mean that residents and music lovers can happily co-exist. That outcome starts at the planning application stage when a good developer recognises the cultural value of the existing music venue and takes steps to protect it.
“Recognising the existence of an iconic music venue like Thekla starts with a thorough environmental impact study that specifically understands the noise in the area. Properly understanding noise and activity results in great design for any refurbishment or new building, ensuring noise is managed and controlled, and in commitments such as Deed of Easement and accurate marketing to future residents.
“We are concerned if that process has happened so far in the proposed development near Thekla and would encourage the developer to start it."
Across the UK, an estimated 35% of grassroots music venues closed down between 2007 and 2015.
Last month, UK Music launched a campaign to introduce planned new legislation to help stem the tide of music venue closures across the UK. It is working to enshrine the “agent of change” principle in law.