You may recall that a few months ago, we encouraged our community to voice opposition to a planning application to turn the nursery next door into flats. Over 200 objections were received to this application, emphasising that the necessary conditions clearly had not been met. We want to thank you all for your continued support.
As a result, the developers next door have now changed their application to convert the old nursery into holiday lets. They have also stated that they will add internal sound proofing to help protect against noise. The planning officer is now satisfied that mitigation measures have been met, and have recommended the plans for approval when it comes before the Planning committee this coming Thursday.
However we still have major concerns about this development. Whilst short term holiday lets may not lead to persistent complaints in the same way, there is of course a risk of those staying at the lets complaining to the owners, and leading them to be converted into private accomodation later down the line. We also know from experience that the internal measures announced are unlikely to result in absolute deadening of noise, and that just because a planning application has been successful, it does not mean that any potential noise dispute has been averted. In particular we feel that our late night club shows, that we apply with Temporary Events Notices for, could be under threat, at a time where there are literally no alternative spaces for underground electronic music in York. Sound testing commissioned by the developers in order to support their application did not include a club show, and thus is not representative of a ‘worse case scenario’ as is claimed. We are also not convinced that the need for replacement nursery spaces in the ward has been met, especially given the subsequent closure of Priory Street Nursery.
Many of you may be familiar with the all too common narrative of developments happening next to music venues, and the venues subsequently receiving noise complaints, with this being a major factor in the shutting of venues across the country over recent years. Our partners at Music Venue Trust have been campaigning around this issue for many years, and in January was successful in lobbying to have the Agent of Change condition applied to planning. This means that it is the developers responsibility to soundproof rather than a venues. However, it’s important to note that this is only a protection at a planning level. It doesn’t actually stop someone from making complaints. We have also noted, with some concern, recent government announcements around loosening of planning protections, especially in regards to converting from commercial to residential. We hope to continue to assist MVT in demonstrating how this potentially threatens music venues across the country, and is a backwards step in ensuring their protection.
We also worked hard with other venues such as The Fulford Arms & Victoria Vaults in creating York Music Venues Network, an organisation to support and campaign on behalf of York’s venues, who have been under continued threat for the last decade. We were then successful in petitioning the Council to adopt a motion pledging to support our music venues against developers, which they did unanimously.
The Music Venue Trust have pioneered a way forward in creating a win-win situation for developers and music venues alike, using a form of contract known as a ‘Deed of Easement’. We would like the councillors to adopt this as a planning condition for developments near all music venues in York. This would represent a massive and progressive step from a council that has pledged to protect its venues from this very threat.
A Deed of Easement is a legal agreement, or covenant, that is signed between a developer and a venue, stating that all future occupants will not complain about noise. This means that when the property is sold again, or potentially developed again, the Deed will ensure that we are afforded long term protections to keep doing what we are doing. This has been used in high profile cases such as George Tavern & Ministry of Sound in London, and Motion & The Fleece in Bristol. It has been adopted by the Mayor of London as part of his ‘Rescue plan to save London’s Grassroots Music Venues’. It future proofs both ourselves and the investment of the developers, by making sure subsequent noise disputes are avoided. In essence, if the developers feel that their proposed soundproofing will be sufficient, than they have nothing to lose by agreeing to a Deed of Easement.
We feel this is a productive way to reach agreement between us and those who seek to develop around us, as well as way of creating long term protections for York’s venues. If CoYC adopt this as a standard for developments near music venues, it will not only be fulfilling its commitment to protect them, but also be pioneering a groundbreaking new way of creating positive and inclusive developments that complement, rather than destroy, the cultural fabric of a city.
To be clear. We don’t want to see buildings around us empty. We want to carry on with our business, and we are sure the developers do too. What we are proposing is a solution that can not only work for both us and them, but can help pioneer positive discussions around developments moving forward.
What can you do?
There’s only a few slots for people to speak at the actual meeting on this issue that we are likely to use up, but if you want to write to your councillor, please do so! Let them know what you think. The only reason we have managed to get this far is with your support!
You can find out which councillors are sitting on the panel here: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgMeetingAttendance.aspx?ID=12304
And send them more information on Deeds of Easement here: