Nightclub to close because of ‘impossible’ licensing climate


nightclub stock picture

A popular nightclub in east London is to close, blaming an “impossible” licensing climate as the local council responds to the needs of its changing population.

The owners of Dance Tunnel, which opened in Kingsland High Street in 2012, said they had taken the decision to close the venue in August and seek another site elsewhere in London.

In a statement, they said: “Sadly the licensing climate in Hackney has made it impossible for us to get the hours we need to make Dance Tunnel sustainable in the long term.”

In response, a council spokesperson said: “Hackney Council values its vibrant and exciting nightlife, and we are proud of the borough’s reputation as a night-time destination. However, we need to balance the needs of businesses against the rights of our residents to a good night’s sleep, and as both our population and night-time economy grow, that is becoming increasingly hard to do.”

It follows a scrapped consultation by Hackney Council on proposals to close venues at 11pm and not to issue any new licenses in certain areas of the borough. A new consultation is being planned for later this year.

The news led the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) to emphasise the need for local authorities to act quickly and decisively when looking to balance the benefits of the night-time economy with the views of local residents.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The delay in Hackney’s consultation, leading to Dance Tunnel’s closure announcement, shows how the fortunes of nightclubs are based on tight margins.

“A speedy resolution to the licensing issue here may well have saved Dance Tunnel, a venue highly valued by many London clubbers.

“Nightclubs are an important social and economic element of the night-time economy but there are nearly half as many open today than there were just a decade ago.

“Licensing authorities need to recognise the need to allow nightclubs to prosper if the British high street is to remain on track for recovery.”

Hackney Council pointed out that Dance Tunnel has a premises licence to operate until 3am and has not applied to extend its opening hours for over two years. It has been able to regularly operate until 5am using a limited number of Temporary Event Notices.

The council spokesperson added: “In February we organised a meeting in Shoreditch with residents and business owners to hear their opinions about how we can strike the right balance. We’ll be arranging other opportunities for people to have their say over the coming months, and this will feed into our licensing strategy.”

The owners of Dance Tunnel thanked their customers for putting together an online petition to save the club but said they would not change their minds.

“We are extremely humbled by the response to yesterday’s announcement and the fact that Dance Tunnel means so much to so many people. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, but for us Dance Tunnel’s future lies elsewhere – we still feel that London is still missing the club it truly deserves.

“We need to regroup and look further afield to find a space where we are subject to fewer compromises. We would like to offer our heartfelt and sincere thanks to everyone who has been in touch to offer support.”

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