NTIA teams up with Thekla

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has teamed up with Bristol music venue Thekla to host an event that will explore how the night-time economy can co-exist with urban development.

The move is part of a campaign the venue is leading to safeguard its future following the green light given by the city planners to the Redcliffe Wharf residential site.

The event will explore the issues venues face with the increasing number of residential developments in city centres as planners struggle to meet the demand for new housing.

A Q&A session on 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.

Julie Tippins, DHP Family, commented: “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 the 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.”


Planning permission was granted for a residential development of flats on the opposite bank of the river despite serious concerns raised by 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.

Tippins added: “We are pleased that the developer of Redcliffe Wharf has committed to a new noise survey. 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.

Thekla, a live music venue and club space, is operated by independent national promoter DHP Family

The Thekla case

Julie Tippins, head of compliance of festival, promoter and venue operator DHP Family, alongside Alan Miller, chairman of NTIA, will discuss the Thekla position.

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.

The night time economy is UK’s fifth biggest industry and accounts for at least eight percent of the UK’s employment and revenues of £66bn per annum, according to the NTIA.

Confirmed panel members include:

  • Tom Paine (Love Saves The Day)
  • Leighton De Burca (Nite Watch Placemaker Bristol)
  • John Hirst (Bristol BID) with further guests to be announced shortly.

NTIA chairman, Alan Miller, commented: “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 event is open to the public. To reserve a place email with your full name.

Anyone wanting to show their support is invited to post on socials using #savethekla and #savenightlife

Thekla calls for support

Thekla, a live music venue and club space, is operated by independent national promoter DHP Family. Photo as seen on its Facebook page

DHP Family, the Bristol-based festival organiser and promoter, is under pressure for Thekla – a live music on a boat in Bristol Harbour – is at risk of closure following council plans look set to give the green light to a residential development.

On board a converted German cargo ship, Thekla has been moored in Bristol Harbour since 1984.

The Redcliffe Wharf planning application directly opposite the Thekla has been recommended for approval by officers despite its own Pollution Control Team recognising the need for a new and more comprehensive noise survey. The planning committee meets on Wednesday 8 November to make its decision.

“It’s vitally important that planners take into consideration existing venues when making decisions on new developments,“ said Alex Black, general manager at Thekla. “The decision they take could potentially have a disastrous impact on the Bristol music scene and night-time economy. We’ve seen too many venues fall victim to residential developments and being forced to close.”

DHP Family is calling for the planning decision to be deferred to allow the second noise assessment to take place so the findings can form part of the decision-making on the planning application.

Julie Tippins, head of compliance at DHP, commented: “If this development goes ahead with inadequate soundproofing, it would leave the Thekla vulnerable to complaints from residents about noise. The Thekla’s whole future is at risk.”

This is an issue that has been facing venues around the UK, forcing many to close. An estimated 35 per cent of grassroots music venues closed down between 2007 and 2015 across the UK. In London alone, the capital has lost over a third of its grassroots music venues in the last 10 years.

In line of this trend UK Music has launched a campaign to protect grassroots music venues. The industry body is working to enshrine the “agent of change” principle in law to transform the future of Britain’s music scene by safeguarding the future of hundreds of venues for decades to come.

Currently, the guidance to planners to consider agent of change, whereby the burden is on the developer to make sure that solutions are in place to mitigate the potential impact of their scheme on existing businesses, is voluntary.

“Sensible and adequately planned residential developments near to grassroots music venues like the Thekla mean that residents and music lovers can happily co-exist,” said Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust. “That outcome starts at the planning application stage when a good developer recognises the cultural value of the existing music venue and takes steps to protect it.”

Davyd said that recognising the existence of an iconic music venue like Thekla starts with a thorough environmental impact study that specifically understands the noise in the area.

“Properly understanding noise and activity results in great design for any refurbishment or new building, ensuring noise is managed and controlled, and in commitments such as Deed of Easement and accurate marketing to future residents.

“We are concerned if that process has happened so far in the proposed development near Thekla and would encourage the developer to start it,” he concluded.

In recent years DHP has expanded into festivals, tour promotion, band management and ticketing. The company started with Rock City and has since added Rescue Rooms, Stealth and The Bodega in Nottingham, The Thekla in Bristol; Oslo in Hackney and relaunched Borderline in Soho and The Garage in Highbury in 2017. DHP also runs Manchester Cathedral’s music programme.

DHP also runs the 20,000 capacity ‘Splendour’ in Nottingham, overall winner of Best Festival (15,000-39,000 cap) at the 2016 Live Music Business Awards; Dot To Dot, a multi-venue festival taking place in several cities; MIRRORS, a metropolitan multi-venue event around Hackney; while Everywhere runs across Nottingham. The company is also behind the charity festival Beat The Streets in Nottingham aiming to raise money for the homeless.