NTIA partners Bristol venue for event on protecting night-time economy

DHP Family Thekla Bristol

An event to explore how the night-time economy can exist alongside urban development is to be held at Bristol music venue Thekla which is campaigning to safeguard its future.

Led by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), the event on Wednesday December 6 will explore the issues that venues face from the increasing numbers of residential developments in city centres as planners struggle to meet the demand for new housing.

A question-and-answer session on the Thekla’s future will be followed by a panel discussion on how to achieve a “360 degree” approach where night-time industry operators, legislators, police, local planning authorities and residents are all part of the discussion.

The Thekla could be under threat after planning permission was granted for a residential development of flats on the opposite bank of the river despite serious concerns raised by the venue’s owner DHP Family of the lack of an adequate noise survey.

There are fears the Thekla could be forced to close due to potential noise complaints from the Redcliffe Wharf flats if the developer fails to put in enough soundproofing to protect its residents.

Julie Tippins, head of compliance at DHP Family, said: “We are very pleased to be hosting this NTIA event which will focus on a very hot topic for us – the issues venues face with the increasing number of residential development in city centres.

“DHP Family understands the housing pressure the country and particularly young people face and why local authorities are keen to see as much residential development as possible to ease the problem and meet targets set by government.

“This should be done in a cooperative way with existing bars, venues and clubs to ensure their future is not jeopardised as a consequence. The key is to find ways to work together to overcome the challenges.”

Julie will be joined by Alan Miller, chairman of the NTIA, to discuss the Thekla position. At a recent Bristol City Council planning meeting, the developer of Redcliffe Wharf gave a commitment to work with the Thekla in connection with any future acoustic noise surveys. Now the focus is on making sure this happens so adequate sound proofing is incorporated into the new development.

Julie added: “We are pleased that the developer of Redcliffe Wharf has verbally and in writing committed to a new noise survey and we wait for them to provide us with the details of when and how this will be carried out so we can assist them in making this a robust evaluation, which can protect both the Thekla and residents in the future.”

The NTIA event will highlight the opportunities as well as some of the challenges to cities of development and the need to have a smart, ambitious and joined-up urban master plan.

The panel will discuss how stakeholders can work together to achieve solutions which look to see how music venues and other operators in the 24-hour economy – in Bristol and nationally – can co-exist with urban development.

Confirmed panel members include Tom Paine (Motion, Love Saves The Day), Leighton De Burca (Nite Watch Placemaker Bristol) and John Hirst (Broadmead Bristol Business Improvement District) with further guests to be announced shortly.

Alan said: “We are very excited to be doing this joint event with Thekla in Bristol. In so many ways, Thekla represents the beating heart of creativity and a part of the special magic that makes up Bristol.

“Bristol, which has given so much in terms of musical and artistic contribution, needs to ensure there is a smart urban master plan so development can happen for much-needed new housing while our cultural destinations can continue to flourish together.

“Many have already voiced their opinions and we look forward to a smart solution of win-win with the developers. However beyond that, we need to ensure that the ongoing direction for Bristol is one that encourages and champions our fifth biggest industry and one of the vital contributions that Britain makes to the world.”

The night-time economy is the UK’s fifth biggest industry and accounts for at least 8% of the UK’s employment and revenues of £66 billion per year, according to the NTIA.

This week, London mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the “Agent of Change” principle in his draft London Plan which means developers building new residential properties near bars, pubs and clubs will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound from the venues instead of the crippling cost falling on the operators.

The event on December 6 on the Thekla, which is off The Grove in East Mud Dock, is open to the public and starts at 6pm. To reserve a place, please email alex@theklabristol.co.uk with your full name.

Anyone wanting to show their support is invited to post on social media using #savethekla and #savenightlife.

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