Councillors, planners and developers were urged to work with venue operators to find ways to coexist as part of an event looking at ways to safeguard Britain’s night-time economy.
At a packed public meeting at Bristol venue, the Thekla, this week, a panel led by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) called for action, including the introduction of the “Agent of Change” principle in Bristol.
Proposed this month by London mayor Sadiq Khan for the draft London Plan, this means property developers have to take into account pre-existing businesses, such as bars, clubs and music venues, when applying for planning permission.
It is particularly relevant to the Thekla which is at risk because a residential development has been given the go-ahead on the opposite bank of the river from the floating venue – despite serious concerns raised by the lack of a proper noise survey.
There are fears that the Thekla could be forced to close due to noise complaints from residents moving into the Redcliffe Wharf flats if the developer fails to put in enough soundproofing.
Julie Tippins, from the venue’s owner DHP Family, said: “There are a lot of people for whom this is a really important issue. This is an opportunity for us to get in front of the politicians and let them know exactly what’s going on, and how much we care.
“Things have to change so that we can protect venues such as Thekla and keep Bristol’s nightlife as good as it is now. It’s vital.
“The problem isn’t going to go away. There are going to be more developments and I want the council to wake up to this and start thinking about how we can build better plans so we can coexist together. We want new flats to be built in the city but we don’t want them to affect our businesses.”
Alan Miller, chairman of the NTIA, added: “It was a fantastic turn-out at our joint event from people that are concerned about the future of both Thekla and Bristol culture generally. We discussed and believe that a smart Urban Master Plan for Bristol where all stakeholders are engaged and participating is crucial.
“This of course covers Agent of Change and goes far beyond that to ensure thinking and planning the future of Bristol is done in a joined-up and smart nuanced way.
“This should involve having a Night Time Commission with key stakeholders from Bristol as well as a night czar to work with and alongside mayor Marvin Rees and councillors to ensure everyone gets to maximise the benefits of our much-loved venues while mitigating any costs.
“Working together, day- and night-time venues constantly demonstrate they bring enormous value to cities and we are excited for the next steps.
“We encourage everyone to sign our petition at http://savenightlife.com/ which ensures a direct email to your local councillor to have your voice heard with #SaveNightlife and of course to continue all together to help #SaveThekla.
“We shall be announcing our next event and further activities really soon.”
DHP Family is now waiting for the developer of Redcliffe Wharf to follow up on its commitment to carry out a new and more comprehensive noise survey that properly takes into account the noise levels from the Thekla.
Alan Miller and Julie Tippins were joined on the panel by Tom Paine of Love Saves The Day, Leighton De Burca of Nite Watch Placemaker Bristol, and John Hirst from Bristol’s business improvement district (BID).
Anyone wanting to show their support is invited to post on social media using #savethekla and #savenightlife.