York Labour councillors are set to introduce a motion at this week’s full council meeting, seeking to give greater protection to the city’s music venues through the planning system. This follows attempts by venues including the Crescent, Fulford Arms and Micklegate Social to form a York Music Venues Network, and calling on the council for support.
Recent news that a planning application has been submitted to turn the Crescent Nursery, next door to the Crescent Community Venue, into four luxury flats has prompted concerns that future residents might make noise complaints, threatening the venue.
The money to be made from converting buildings into residential property in a high housing cost city like York has led to increased pressure on nightclubs and live music performance venues in recent years. Earlier in the summer fears were raised that the site of Fibbers on Toft Green had been sold to developers to built a hotel, and while the venue has announced it is staying open the issue has still not been fully resolved.
Micklegate councillor Jonny Crawshaw will propose Labour’s motion. He said: “This motion presents councillors with an opportunity to make an important statement about the cultural identity and diversity of the city they represent. It also provides a strong role for the newly established York Music Venues Network in engaging with the council on existing venues and any proposed changes to them.
“Live music venues and nightclubs are culturally important features in York’s evening economy, yet they are increasingly under threat from developers and landowners looking to make a quick profit from York’s sky high housing prices.
“This motion not only recognises the importance of these venues, but seeks appropriate safeguards for them through properly applying national planning guidance on individual planning applications. The alternative is to see a continued reduction in this kind of entertainment, leaving York the worse off for it”.
York was recently named the UK’s most culturally vibrant city by the European Commission, and maintaining that position is a benefit to the city’s vitally important tourist industry.
While more of the threat to music venues tends to be in or close to the city centre, community music venues in other parts of York are also vitally important, as Acomb councillor Katie Lomas explained:
“The city centre is the obvious focal point for going out to hear live music but many people enjoy a dance and a band much closer to where they live in their own communities.
“These venues offer great ways to bring people together to relax and enjoy themselves. We welcomed the Crooked Tap’s live music to Acomb Green in March this year in our ward, including evenings where musicians can just turn up and join in themselves.
“Venues like this and the Fulford Arms, as well as community clubs right across York are great places for people to play, but which are small enough that they feel intimate and local. We must value these venues not only for what they are now but for their future potential too”.