Protecting Bristol’s Nightlife: an update from Motion

© Photography by Ollie Kirk for Here & Now (fb.com/wearehereandnow)

Today’s blog comes from Dan Deeks, Managing Director of Motion Bristol

Today marks a milestone for Motion, and for our nightlife more broadly. As we work to protect city-centre venues from the changes going on around us, we have succeeded in securing a deed of easement.

Motion as a venue has existed in the industrial area of our city, with little residential properties in proximity. As part of our city’s growth a university campus will be situated over the river from us with residential property coming with it. This is much-needed regeneration, and we welcome the change. However, these new properties leave us at risk of potential noise complaints.

A deed of easement of noise will give our venue the right to make noise up to pre-existing levels without the risk of legal action from the owner or tenant of a newly developed home. This means Bristol’s cultural offer can be protected and our world-famous music and nightlife can continue to exist in a growing city.

Where deed of easement has been used to protect nightlife previously in the UK, it has mostly involved one development and one venue. Our situation is unique in the fact that we have six proposed sites around us. Although we have secured only one easement so far, it still feels like a massive success. The natural progression here would be that the rest of the developments followed suit.

For my partner and myself we found the situation very daunting. This has been a steep learning curve. I specialise in dark rooms, high tech laser and lighting systems, not planning terms. My partner, Martin, specialises in Chemical Brother albums and every condition you have ever seen on a premises license.

Cllr Nicola Beech has been working alongside us since very early on. It wasn’t long before Nicola, armed with her Bristol @ Night panel, supported the proposed measures we suggested. Nicola has spoken publicly of the cultural and economic importance of nightlife to our city, and her interest in supporting to re-generation of existing and new spaces for potential nightlife use in the future.

We worked with Bristol City Council’s Planning and Pollution Control Officers to ensure that suitable mitigation measures were enforced, and began collectively looking at other cases and learning what we could – easements of noise are in fairly new in their application.

These conversations were followed by talks with developers themselves. The conversation with Summix was initiated by Nicola and Jim Tarzy our planning consultant. Stuart Black from Summix was very willing to look at several options. The easement of noise idea comes with a lot of stigma with developers and is pushed away without really looking at the facts. Stuart diligently looked through case studies and decided he was happy to go ahead with it.

I’m certainly very happy with the outcome. Our city has rich heritage of music culture, and a lot of this culture stems from our multicultural roots. It’s something we should be proud of.

There are still hurdles ahead for the Night Time Economy. Action such as the business rate cut for music venues announced by the government is a massive boost but does not solve wider issues. Public Transport, including later running trains and buses, would have massive benefits. We have empty shops and shopping centres, and this creates a unique opportunity to re-purpose spaces, but as a city we need to have open minds.

Nightlife in Bristol provides thousands of jobs – we must work to safeguard these jobs and the people that do them.  We must focus on making our nightlife venues safe places where everyone is welcome. We are so grateful for the courtesy others gave us in listening to our views and ideas, and I hope we can use this experience to help build a bright future for nightlife in Bristol.

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