The WEYMOUTH music scene is in danger of falling silent as the ‘new normal’ changes the face of UK city centers.
Weymouth’s live music scene has provided a creative outlet for generations of musicians and bands, while the town’s famous New Years celebrations and seaside clubs put the resort on the map as a party destination .
But, in line with a national trend, Weymouth’s nightlife economy faces difficult circumstances. Aside from the pandemic itself, the virus has had catastrophic effects on UK shopping streets – and as shops close, city centers are becoming neighborhoods in their own right. While there is a real need for affordable housing in the context of the current housing crisis, there is a delicate balance to be struck between places where loud music is played and their new neighbors. Nationally, there has been an increase in noise complaints against large, established sites – a trend that could be replicated in Weymouth.
With a slew of ‘change-of-use’ planning requests pending for flats above town center stores – and newly approved new flats – the main streets of Weymouth are set to become more and more popular. more residential.
Seaside clubs closed
The quickest change can be seen on Weymouth seafront, where revelers flocked to some of the city’s biggest nightclubs – many of which are now replaced by restaurants with residential apartments built on the upper floors.
An application for a new cocktail bar and café on the Esplanade – Caffeine Weymouth – recently encountered objections from Weymouth City Council over concerns about late opening hours and disruption caused by punters.
A decision on this application has yet to be made by the Dorset Council licensing authority. However, it does illustrate Weymouth’s shift from a nightlife destination to a family-oriented, business-oriented seaside resort in the early evening.
“Change of residential profile”
Last year, the Respect Weymouth resident group fiercely opposed a new Caribbean-themed Tropical Turtle restaurant premises license – which was ultimately granted following a hearing by the Dorset Council sublicensing committee.
The statement made by Respect Weymouth cited the ‘changing residential profile’ of downtown Weymouth as one of the grounds for objection, adding: “The burnt down church 50 meters from the site has a new building permit for 25 apartments.
“Other recent developments include a harbor view block of flats at Helen Lane, a stunning conversion from warehouse to flats at the end of Helen Lane in Templeman’s Mill, and a new conversion for expensive, high-rise flats. quality in a large warehouse attached to Helen Lane and the harbor. A new urban planning request for the transformation of adjoining commercial premises into housing is underway.
The beginning of the end?
The reaction to a recent noise complaint against the Duke of Cornwall’s live music pub, however, indicates that there is a wave of locals who are concerned about people moving to the city center, with its long established music scene and nightlife, then complain about noise.
As indicated, in response to complaints from neighbors regarding “public nuisance” due to sleepless nights, the Duke of Cornwall had conditions attached to his license requiring live and recorded music acts to end earlier, as well as ordering to hire an acoustical consultant to assess sound levels and develop a noise management plan.
This sets a precedent for other concert halls because he saw the principles of the live music law – a deregulation of the licensing law – removed from the pub license. Essentially, this means the venue is at the mercy of the council when it comes to noise conditions, as it removes protections introduced into UK law due to concerns about local concert halls crippled by licensing bureaucracy.
A divided city
Meanwhile, the question has divided opinions on the merits of the “pub was here first” argument. National planning policy supports this argument to some extent.
In 2018, the Agent of Change policy was introduced to protect established music and entertainment venues at risk of shutdown due to noise complaints from new developments. The policy leaves developers with the responsibility of mitigating potential noise issues – which could involve soundproofing new buildings or, in some cases, covering the cost of soundproofing nearby sites.
“Prohibition” of new nightclubs
Nightlife and nightclubs closing in Weymouth are unlikely to be replaced by a similar business. Indeed, the city center has been declared a cumulative impact area by the former Borough Council of Weymouth & Portland, which means that there is an automatic refusal policy for new premises open late at night, unless the applicant can prove that their business will not cause problems.
The policy was introduced due to the seriousness of violent crime committed at night and was adopted by Dorset Council after the Borough Council was dissolved. A review of the policy should be carried out every three years.
Love them or hate them – the odds are against the ‘loud’ sites in Weymouth.