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Ministry Of Sound remains at risk from flat development

By | Published on Friday 1 February 2013

Ministry Of Sound

The future of Ministry Of Sound’s flagship nightclub is still uncertain, owner James Palumbo has told the Evening Standard, as Boris Johnson considers a planning application to build an apartment block right next to the South London superclub.

As previously reported, Ministry previously succeeded in blocking the plans by property developer Oakmayne in October 2011, after the property firm’s proposals were unanimously rejected by Southwark’s planning committee. Ministry successfully argued that it was an important employer in the area, that it played an important role in the capital’s clubbing culture and local community, and that the planned residential development would cause problems because future residents would be certain to make demands on licensing officials regards noise at the venue.

But despite winning at the local authority level, a few months later London Mayor Boris Johnson’s office agreed to reconsider the decision, placing the club under threat once again. Johnson will make a final decision on the planning application next month.

Speaking to the Standard ahead of that decision, Palumbo said: “The bottom line is if they build that block of flats, we are going to close. If you’ve got a flat in the second floor in that building, you’d object to the noise”.

Back when Southwark was considering the original planning application, it was reported that Oakmayne had offered to pay for better soundproofing at the club venue. But, says Palumbo, aside from the commercial impact of any new building work at the Ministry venue, the noise issue wouldn’t come from music playing inside the venue (much of which current soundproofing successfully keeps inside), but from the noise of crowds queuing up or smoking outside the club.

Palumbo continued: “We’ve had [advice from] noise experts, wind experts, architects, property professionals … It’s emotionally and physically exhausting because we could have sat down with the developer four years ago and said, ‘Let’s do a deal, in the normal way’.”

As previously reported, when MoS first raised concerns with Oakmayne in 2010, its boss Christopher Allen allegedly remarked that “nightclubs come and go”.

Still annoyed by that comment, Palumbo said: “London’s going to have no nightclubs left, just champagne clubs for hedge-fund people. We’ve never been about paying Kim Kardashian a few hundred thousand dollars [to come on] New Year’s Eve. We don’t give a shit about that. Yes, there’s a VIP room. Yes, famous people come here. But this club has always been about the music, the dancing, the big audience. If you take away the club, it’s not a good look for us. That’s why we’re fighting like dogs”.

He added that his company is contributing more to London’s economy than the property development firm, saying: “We pay tens of millions in PAYE, corporation tax, national insurance, VAT. That property is owned by a British Virgin Islands company which is owned by clients of a Swiss bank … I don’t see why my business should die to facilitate an offshore company making profits from luxury flats”.

Palumbo’s latest plan to win Boris Johnson over is to invite him down to the club on a Saturday night to see how it operates and what threat it faces if the new block of flats is allowed to be built, ahead of his decision on 26 Feb. The club has also reopened its petition against the development, which you can sign here: