Clubs saved after council compromise

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11-13 Wolstenholme Square: Pic by JMU Journalism

11-13 Wolstenholme Square: Pic by JMU Journalism

Popular nightclubs The Kazimier and Nation have been saved from closure, despite the council’s Wolstenholme Square redevelopment being given the go-ahead.

The proposed redevelopment was originally granted with a condition by the council that the clubs in the area must be shut down before residential properties could be built.

This meant the multimillion pound planning proposal would have seen the Kazimier and Nation – home to famous attractions such as Medication and Cream – demolished to make way for a new apartment block.

However, late last night the planning committee removed the condition, opening the way for a compromise. Now the 250-year-old merchant house at 11-13 Wolstenholme Square will be renovated and used as small retail units and hotel-style apartments, meaning the risk of noise pollution for new residents would no longer be an issue.

Despite the reprieve, both councillors and the community voiced concerns that the area’s culture and nightlife would still be affected and a petition to save the square has reached over 8,000 signatures.

Andrew Ellis, who spoke on behalf of the music community at the council meeting, said: “There are still issues, there have been over 8,000 objections. The community hasn’t been involved in this decision from the start and despite being told the opposite these plans don’t cater for the arts community. The creative people will leave.”

Steve Fitzsimmons, licensee of Cream spoke on behalf of Cream, The Kazimier, Ropewalks and Rodney Street residents association, said: “We employ over 100 staff, from cleaners, bar staff to medics and engineers; that is not to mention all the services and companies we use around the city. The clubs are also a main attraction, bringing over 300,000 people a year to the city.”

Concerns also remain that this could just be the first phase of a development that slowly pushes the clubs closer to closure in the future. Liberal councillor Steve Radford said: “We have seen this before, residential and nightlife have been mixed and within a year residents have the tenacity to complain.”

He added: ”We are talking about global class nightclubs which are renowned across the world. How do we protect what are world leaders?”

Labour councillors, along with Cllr Michelle Corrigan who originally stood against the application, said they were now happy that the changes would mean the safety of the clubs was assured and the proposal was passed.

Cllr Steve Munby, who had been staunchly against the proposal, added: “The phrase I’d use is, we’ve turned a car crash into a creative compromise here.”

About Adrian Speed, JMU Journalism