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Islington Council offers protection to The Garage to avoid closure

By | Published on Tuesday 7 May 2019

The Garage

North London music venue The Garage has secured support from Islington Council in its ongoing battle to avoid closure due to nearby redevelopment. The council has proposed providing protection for any music venue operating at The Garage’s current location as part of its draft new Local Plan.

“We’ve listened carefully to all views, and the draft Local Plan – which will guide development for the next fifteen years – proposes strong protection for a music venue to continue operation on the Garage site”, an Islington Council spokesperson said last week. “Islington Council wants to support local small music venues through its planning and licensing policies”.

Having taken over The Garage in 2016, DHP Family announced last year that the venue was under threat due to plans by TFL to redevelop the tube station opposite and the surrounding area. Rising business rates and a short rolling lease also put the venue at risk. However, in addition to support from the local council, TFL has also committed to keep a music venue on the site, and the London Mayor’s office is also backing The Garage’s continued operation.

Though challenges remain. Noting the ever increasing difficulties all small venues are facing, DHP Family’s Managing Director George Akins says: “For small, independently owned venues, it is becoming extremely difficult to survive in London. Business rate increases, rent increases and redevelopment plans are all hitting grassroots venues and although the support of the council, TFL and the Mayor’s office is very important and significant there is still plenty of work to do. We all need to pull together to try and save as many of these venues as possible before it’s too late”.

“The UK is one of the world’s great sources of forward-thinking music but we are in great danger of throwing away that heritage”, he goes on. “Small venues showcasing grassroots contemporary music are a breeding ground for many of the bands that will become the superstars and stadium fillers of tomorrow”.

The various challenges mentioned by Akins have, of course, been much discussed in the music community in recent years. And in recent months UK Music and the Music Venue Trust have been particularly vocal in opposing the current status of business rates for music venues. The government recently introduced rates relief for some small businesses on the high street, but excluded music venues from that scheme.