Bristol’s Iconic Thekla May Be Sunk By Council Planners
Thekla, the multi award winning live music boat venue and club in Bristol’s floating harbour is facing a fight for survival as planners look set to give the green light to a residential development.
The Redcliffe Wharf planning application directly opposite the Thekla has been recommended for approval by officers despite its own Pollution Control Team recognising the need for a new and more comprehensive noise survey. The planning committee meets on Wednesday November 8 to make its decision.
Thekla’s general manager Alex Black said: “It’s vitally important that planners take into consideration existing venues when making decisions on new developments. 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.”
DHP Family, owners of the Thekla, are calling for the planning decision to be deferred to allow the second noise assessment to take place so the findings can form part of the decision-making on the planning application.
DHP’s head of compliance Julie Tippins said: “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.”
Mark Davyd, 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.”
This is an issue that has been facing venues around the UK, forcing many to close. Across the UK, an estimated 35% of grassroots music venues closed down between 2007 and 2015. Currently, the guidance to planners to consider agent of change, whereby the burden is on the developer to make sure that solutions are in place to mitigate the potential impact of their scheme on existing businesses, is voluntary.
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 to transform the future of Britain’s music scene by safeguarding the future of hundreds of venues for decades to come.