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Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach under threat from new development

By | Published on Monday 3 April 2017

Clwb Ifor Bach

Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach and a number of other music venues on the city’s Womanby Street are potentially under threat due to various plans for redevelopment in the area. To that end, campaigners are now calling on local government to recognise the street’s cultural significance and therefore provide it with certain protections.

Following planning permission for a new hotel on the street being granted, a new planning application has now been submitted to turn the building adjacent to Clwb Ifor Bach into flats. The concern, of course, is that subsequent noise complaints against the venues in the street from new residents could ultimately lead to their closure, a problem that has occurred for venues elsewhere in the UK.

The UK government earlier this year proposed amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework to avoid such situations in England. Under the changes, the agent of change principal would be boosted, putting the onus on developers to combat noise from existing businesses when building new properties or redeveloping existing sites.

Following a meeting with local councillors on Friday, members of the Save Womanby Street campaign said that they had formally decided to oppose the proposed new residential development, and to work to change local and wider Welsh planning law to provide protections for live music venues.

Local MPs Kevin Brennan and Jo Stevens have also pledged support to the campaign, Brennan telling the BBC: “Festivals like Swn are the place where many bands from Wales and beyond have cut their teeth. I would hate to see opportunities like this squandered away to placate the residential developers looking for a quick buck in Cardiff city centre”.

Stevens added: “To see the quality and variety of live music compromised due to unnecessary and inappropriate development would be disastrous for Cardiff’s live music scene and reputation. I want to see a change to planning laws that will enable us to retain this very special place in the city and keep live music in Cardiff”.

Cardiff Council has said that the new hotel development was told that it would have to install appropriate soundproofing when it granted planning permission. The Welsh government has also said that it is considering adding provisions to recognise the cultural significance of music venues in planning law, and has met with the Music Venues Trust to discuss this.

Commenting on the news of the proposals for the new residential development, the Music Venues Trust wrote: “We have no problem at all with sensible, thoughtful, cleverly designed residential spaces coming into our towns and cities … What you can’t do, with any chance of it ending well, is drop a poorly conceived and inadequately designed set of luxury flats right in the middle of one of the most important live music streets in the country and hope for the best”.