Wales politics

Womanby Street live music venue campaign backed by MPs

Clwb Ifor Bach
Image caption Clwb Ifor Bach sits in a prime site for redevelopment

Live music is under threat unless planning laws are changed to protect venues from complaints about noise, two Cardiff MPs have said.

Fans fear Clwb Ifor Bach in the city centre could close after permission was granted for a hotel redevelopment nearby.

Kevin Brennan and Jo Stevens want special designation for such areas to restrict residential schemes.

The Welsh Government said the "cultural contribution" of music venues was being considered in a review of planning law.

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition to save live music in Womanby Street, a prime site for new developments opposite Cardiff Castle.

It is already home to several venues, including Clwb Ifor Bach, and is the base for the annual Swn festival.

Nearby venues Dempseys and the Full Moon have recently closed for redevelopment, while Clwb Ifor Bach has learnt of a plan to convert a neighbouring derelict site into flats.

The MPs also pointed to the demise of The Point in Cardiff Bay in 2009, which closed following complaints about noise from residents of flats built after the venue opened.

Image caption Dan Bettridge performs at a Swn showcase at Clwb Ifor Bach

Cardiff West MP Mr Brennan, a Labour shadow arts minister and keen guitarist, said: "As a regular performing musician it's important to me that our city can continue to hold its reputation as a great location for live music.

"Festivals like Swn are the place where many bands from Wales and beyond have cut their teeth.

"I would hate to see opportunities like this squandered away to placate the residential developers looking for a quick buck in Cardiff city centre."

Cardiff Central Labour MP Ms Stevens added: "To see the quality and variety of live music compromised due to unnecessary and inappropriate development would be disastrous for Cardiff's live music scene and reputation.

"I want to see a change to planning laws that will enable us to retain this very special place in the city and keep live music in Cardiff."

Image copyright GEOFF CADDICK/PA
Image caption Award-winning musician Gwenno was celebrated in a mural outside Clwb Ifor Bach

Cardiff council said a pub given permission to turn its upper floors into a hotel had been told to install sound proofing to keep out noise from the road, neighbouring venues and the pub itself.

A spokesman added there was little scope in current planning law to consider the cultural nature of an area.

"The Mayor of London is proposing to recognise 'an area of cultural significance for music' in parts of the capital but, in Wales, this term isn't recognised in the current Planning Policy Framework," he said.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Planning Policy Wales is currently being reviewed and Welsh Government officials have already met with the Music Venues Trust in relation to this issue.

"The cultural contribution of music venues is acknowledged and this is being given consideration as part of the review of policy."

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