On Thursday 17th August, the proposal to redevelop The Backstreet site came up again. If you've not been following it, you can read about the current proposal here. Essentially, the plans are as before, but with the addition of a new space in the basement for The Backstreet.
That means that, to an extent, the club should be safe whichever way the meeting went - if the proposal was thrown out, the club stays where it is, and if it was passed, then it would stay where it is for at least a year, close for a period, and then re-open in the new basement.
So, we didn't ask people to formally object this time round, however I registered to speak in opposition at the meeting, specifically to ensure that some concerns could be raised about ensuring that the re-provision did go ahead. The developer's representative agreed that there would be no problem with a binding term regarding the club being included in the heads of terms - the legal document between council and developer - which is good news. It allays the main concern some people have expressed, that promising to rebuild is just a way to get people to stop objecting, rather than a firm commitment. Effectively, I don't think we can get a firmer promise than this.
As it turned out, the meeting rejected the plans, largely for the same reasons as before. It's worth noting that everyone who spoke, both for and against, appears to be very keen to preserve the club. While its loss is no longer a grounds for refusing the application, however, there were concerns expressed about the mixed use of the building.
Essentially, some of the councillors are worried about a possible clash between the club as part of the "night time economy" and the residential properties above, and whether or not noise will cause complaints. There are some new guidelines called "Agent of change" rules about this sort of stuff, and it may be that more work has to be done to show that the application complies with them. Particular concern was expressed over the potential for noise at the end of the evening.
I this, I think, the councillors are slightly mistaken, because the nature of the club means that it doesn't really empty out like others, with everyone leaving around the same time, but there wasn't an opportunity to explain that at the meeting. The main concern here seemed to be, rather than not wanting the club, a worry that in the words of one councillor, it could be "setting the club up to fail."
So, this is something we'll have to think about if the plans come back to the committee in a modified form. Will that happen? It's hard to say at the moment. More likely is that the developer will appeal against the decision, and looking at the notes from the planning officers to the councillors, I'd say there's a good chance they'll succeed.
Once again, watch this space, to find out what happens next.