DHP Family, the festival organiser and operator of live music venues in the UK, has confirmed its campaign to protect Thekla, the floating venue in Bristol Harbour.
Thekla is at risk of closure after Bristol City Council planners gave the go-ahead to a new residential development. The decision was made despite major concerns about the impact on the iconic venue.
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, told Access that a new noise development assessment should be carried out as the developer submitted to the authorities a report with significant flaws.
At the planning meeting (Wednesday 8 November), assurances were given by the developer that a new and more comprehensive noise assessment would be carried out.
However, despite DHP calling for the planning decision to be deferred until this had taken place, the developer was given the green light.
Thekla is now calling on its supporters to get behind the next stage of the #savethekla campaign to make sure all the commitments made by the developer to carry out a proper noise survey are honoured.
“We appeal to the developer to keep to their promise to work with us on a new noise survey and improved sound insulation scheme to protect Thekla and the future residents from noise problems,” commented Julie Tippins, head of compliance, DHP Family.
Tippins said the organiser expects the Council to follow up on the assurances and that the councillors will only give the go ahead once they were satisfied the Thekla would be protected from future noise complaints from residents of the development.
“This is certainly not the end of the fight to protect the Thekla as we have to ensure that all parties keep to the commitments they have given. We urge our supporters to contact their local councillors and MPs to ensure the Council does all it can to protect the future of the Thekla,” Tippins said.
DHP Family has said it is grateful for the support received so far to persuade the committee to consider the merits in our argument.
DHP Family is deeply involved in the live music industry. Its business portfolio comprises festivals, tour promotion, band management and ticketing.
Rock City was DHP first launch, 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.
The business at Thekla is booming. The organiser has reported yearly turnover of £1.7m, and that its footfall is 115,000. The venue in Bristol employs 39 staff.
Data from Wish You Were Here 2017 – the latest research by UK Music – revealed the economic contribution of live music to the UK economy, in 2016.
The document showed music tourists visiting small venues in the UK generated £367m and £202m direct spend generated by music tourists visiting smaller venues.
The hospitality business provides nine per cent of UK employment, making it the third largest employer. The industry contributes to five per cent of the UK GDP.
Thekla, alongside live music venues and nightclubs, are part of an industry that makes one per cent of UK business sector, and generates £63bn turnover.
The hospitality industry has grown 605 per cent since 2010, and currently employs 1.6m people, an 18 per cent increase since 2010.
The UK Music research forecasted that the sector is set to create c.23,000 more jobs by 2020, and estimated a 5.5 per cent growth per annum, which will equate to £6bn more in GVA and £3bn more paid in taxes.
Commenting on the risk of closure Thekla is facing, Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust, commented: “Sensible and adequately planned residential developments near to grassroots music venues like the Thekla mean that residents and music lovers can happily co-exist. 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.
“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 result in great design for any refurbishment or new building, ensuring noise is managed and controlled.”