Cam­paign­ers win in bid to pro­tect live mu­sic street

South Wales Echo - - NEWS - RUTH MOS­AL­SKI Lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­porter ruth.mos­al­ski@waleson­line.co.uk

CAM­PAIGN­ERS have scored a vic­tory in their bid to pro­tect Cardiff’s best known live mu­sic street.

De­vel­op­ers yes­ter­day with­drew con­tro­ver­sial plans to build flats on Cardiff’s Wo­manby Street.

The flats would have been built next door to much-loved venue Clwb Ifor Bach.

Mu­sic fans, venue own­ers and politi­cians had joined to­gether to op­pose plans for the flats and a sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tion for a ho­tel to be built above Wether­spoon’s. They feared the fu­ture of the street as the home to sev­eral live mu­sic venues was at risk if plan­ners al­lowed res­i­den­tial dwellings.

The con­cern was that if flats were built, res­i­dents would be af­fected by loud mu­sic and com­plain, which could re­sult in li­cences be­ing re­voked if any com­plaints were up­held – de­spite the venues be­ing long es­tab­lished.

Cam­paign­ers called on the coun­cil and Welsh Gov­ern­ment to of­fer pro­tec­tion to mu­sic venues.

The ap­pli­ca­tion, by Afzal Khan and agent DLP Ar­chi­tec­ture, was for an ex­ist­ing com­mer­cial unit at 9 Wo­manby Street to be knocked down and flats to be built in its place. The cur­rently four-storey build­ing is mainly built of brick but has a miss­ing roof. The de­vel­oper said it would im­prove the ap­pear­ance of the street by in­tro­duc­ing a new build­ing.

No rea­son was given in the let­ter for the with­drawal.

The Wether­spoon’s ho­tel ap­pli­ca­tion was sub­mit­ted first, fol­lowed by the plans for flats. Ob­jec­tions were re­ceived from politi­cians in­clud­ing Cardiff Cen­tral MP Jo Stevens and a num­ber of dif­fer­ent pe­ti­tions were started which were signed by thou­sands of peo­ple. One said they feared the creation of the flats would “rep­re­sent an out­right risk to the con­tin­u­ing op­er­a­tions of ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tions on Wo­manby Street”.

Clwb Ifor Bach chief ex­ec­u­tive Guto Brychan said the with­drawal of the ap­pli­ca­tion was “great news”.

He said the ob­jec­tion on be­half of the club was be­cause they felt there was in­suf­fi­cient de­tail about plans to sound­proof the new build­ing, which would have shared a wall with his venue.

“It’s been very heart­warm­ing and great to see the amount of sup­port we have had and to know how cru­cial Wo­manby Street is to the cultural life of peo­ple in the city,” he added.

“Wo­manby Street is a hub for live mu­sic, new artists and lo­cal mu­sic. It’s an area peo­ple hold very close to their hearts.”

A huge march took place with sup­port­ers head­ing to City Hall to call for sup­port from the coun­cil.

In light of the cam­paign, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment said it planned to re­vise planning pol­icy.

Les­ley Grif­fiths, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Environment and Ru­ral Af­fairs, said she wanted an ex­plicit ref­er­ence to the “Agent of Change” prin­ci­ple to be in­cluded in Wales’ na­tional planning pol­icy.

Un­der the prin­ci­ple, if new de­vel­op­ments or uses are to be in­tro­duced near an ex­ist­ing busi­ness, such as a live mu­sic venue, it is the de­vel­oper’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure so­lu­tions to ad­dress and mit­i­gate the noise are put for­ward.

Speak­ing af­ter the flats ap­pli­ca­tion was with­drawn, Ms Stevens said: “I’m re­ally pleased that, fol­low­ing a huge and fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity cam­paign, this planning ap­pli­ca­tion has been with­drawn.”

RICHARD SWINGLER

A Save Wo­manby Street march ear­lier this year

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