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Controversial flats plan opposite Lancaster music venue gets green light

The Pub in Lancaster

A controversial flats plan opposite a popular Lancaster music venue has been given approval.

Lancaster City Council agreed planning permission for a flats conversion at 4 China Street in the city centre despite almost 1800 objections from the public.

Councillors voted unanimously to pass the plans, which had been opposed by supporters of The Pub venue directly across the road.

Lancaster-based company TFHT Properties wants to convert the first and second floors of 4 China Street, currently an empty three-bedroom maisonette, into two one-bedroom flats. 

But management at The Pub, local musicians and lovers of live music are worried that if people move in opposite the venue, they might complain about the noise, leading to possible restrictions.

The decision to grant planning permission was made at a meeting at Morecambe Town Hall on Monday morning.

Mark Jackson, planning officer, told councillors that the developer would be putting "quite extensive" soundproofing measures in place which were "sufficient to reduce noise to acceptable levels".

This would mean that any residents moving in, would be unlikely to complain about noise from nearby venues.

4 China Street (below) was previously home to an estate agent on the ground floor but the office is now empty. The flats conversion will be in the upper floors.

Councillor Dave Brookes, Green councillor and planning committee member, said: "The Pub started a campaign which has been very well supported. I think it's really important that live music venues are able to continue without threat. But someone could move in without (soundproofing) measures in place.

"This (application) puts The Pub in a better position. It's now better protected."

Councillor Colin Hartley, a Labour councillor, said: "This is currently residential accommodation. This planning application maintains it as residential accommodation but with improved soundproofing. If we refuse it, it's still going to be residential accommodation."

All planning committee members present, councillors Sandra Thornberry, Keith Budden, Alan Greenwell, Colin Hartley, Roger Dennison, Dave Brookes, Sue Tyldesley, Paul Tynan, Joyce Pritchard, Louise Belcher, Martin Gawith and Sally Maddocks, voted in favour of the proposals.

The council's team of planning officers had earlier recommended that the plans be approved.

A council report, published prior to the meeting, said that "appropriate internal levels (of noise) can be achieved with the installation of acoustic glazing" in the flats.

"In order for the windows to remain closed, a ventilation system should also be provided, and this has been proposed by the applicant as indicated on the submitted plans," it says.

"Whilst it is recognised that the site is opposite a licenced public house and live music venue with potential for adverse noise impacts, officers are confident that satisfactory internal noise levels can be achieved with appropriate mitigation...which will also be an improvement on the current situation. In turn, this will considerably reduce the likelihood of any noise complaints being received."

Rob Morrish, owner of The Pub, spoke to Beyond Radio after the decision.

"What we are looking for, is that if the (soundproofing) proves to be insufficient, that the venue is protected," said Mr Morrish.

"They say the (soundproofing) measures are quite onerous. They're not onerous. It's what happens if they prove to be insufficient. The proof is in the pudding.

"Long after the developer is gone, any fight will be between the residents, the council and the venue."

Earlier, Mr Morrish told councillors how The Pub had been turned around since he bought the premises in 2019, including a "top to bottom" renovation, installing its own soundproofing measures, and that the venue "jumps on any issues with our neighbours and deals with them succinctly".

The Pub was recently one of the main venues for Lancaster Music Festival, with a covered outdoor stage in the beer garden headlined by top 90s band Space.

Read more: Controversial flats plan opposite Lancaster venue could go ahead despite 1800 objections - Beyond Radio

Hundreds back Lancaster music venue by objecting to flats plan - Beyond Radio

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