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Hundreds back Lancaster music venue by objecting to flats plan

Gregory Wright, bar and events manager at The Pub in Lancaster

Complaints have poured in about plans for a flats conversion opposite a much-loved music venue in Lancaster.

Lancaster City Council received more than 400 objections in 24 hours after The Pub called for people to protest against the proposals.

Management of the city centre venue said they are worried residents living in the flats would complain about noise from The Pub, leading to restrictions on live music performances.

One supporter of The Pub said the plan could "kill off one of Lancaster's greatest music venues".

Another wrote: "It's really unfair for a well established music venue to potentially lose the battle of sound and noise complaints and then forced to be shut down from residents of future housing - especially when they were there first."

Lancaster-based company TFHT Properties wants to convert the first and second floors of 4 China Street (see photo below), opposite The Pub, currently a three bedroom flat, into two one-bedroom flats. 

They have asked for planning permission from Lancaster City Council, who will make a final decision soon.

A design and access statement on behalf of the applicant says: "The current owner purchased the building at the end of 2022.

"The whole building was historically Martin & Co, estate agents with office at ground floor, and office, toilet and kitchen facilities, and break area to the upper floors. Since 2002 the two upstairs floors were converted into a three bed flat.

"Prior to the 2022 change of ownership, the three-bedroom flat has been unoccupied for some time.

"The proposal entails a change of use from single flat to two self-contained flats, one on each floor served by the existing staircase."

A noise assessment has been carried out on The Pub and another nearby venue, The Jailor's Barrel, which concluded that "appropriate internal noise levels can be achieved by fitting the windows of habitable rooms with acoustic glazing" and "so that windows can remain largely closed, a powered ventilation system should be provided".

But Gregory Wright, bar and events manager of The Pub (below), said he feared this had not taken into account The Pub's live music all year-round, including outdoor gigs in the beer garden.

LISTEN to Gregory Wright speaking about the plans and the impact they may have on The Pub (pictured below)

"The Pub has been a live music venue for almost 20 years now and gained a reputation both locally and nationally as a venue where bands like to play and where people want to come and watch good live music," said Mr Wright.

"We think that opening a huge can of worms by building flats opposite us, would create extra stress for us and potential complaints about the level of noise and the activity that we have been doing for many many years.

"The planning application suggests that there has been monitoring of noise from The Pub, which we were aware of, but it was over a very small period of time.

"Throughout the year, activities change. In the summer months we have outdoor events in our beer garden which we have to apply for Temporary Events Notices for, and we are one of the major venues in the Lancaster Music Festival in October, which involves a lot of outdoor music as well.

"We find this very narrow gap of monitoring is insufficient.

"The building has been empty for quite some time and I think the change of use into flats is really going to hit us quite hard."

He said The Pub received an "extremely positive" response from customers and friends of the venue after posting about the issue on Facebook on Wednesday, with "people from all over the country" giving them support.

Supporters included local rock band Massive Wagons (pictured below) who have had two UK Top 10 albums in recent years.

In a post on their Facebook page, the band said: "It's a story that's becoming all too common...let's show solidarity and stamp this out before it becomes a problem, here and everywhere," they said.

At time of writing, 702 objections to the flats conversion had been lodged on the Lancaster City Council website.

We have approached representatives of TFHT Properties for comment.

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