South East Wales

Premier Inn 'could pull out' of Newport over noise concerns

Warehouse 54, Newport city centre

A major hotel chain is considering pulling out of a move to Newport city centre over noise concerns, BBC Wales has learned.

Site developer Richard Hayward said Premier Inn was worried about noise from nearby nightclub Warehouse 54, and options for sound-proofing were being considered.

Mr Hayward is meeting hotel chain representatives in early May.

The owner of Warehouse 54 said he had lowered the volume of the music.

Mr Hayward said the meeting was to determine "whether [Premier Inn] stay or not", adding "we want [the venue owner] to turn down the music to a reasonable level".

"We have a solution we believe may work, to take out all the steel work between the two buildings - that would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds," he added.

Mr Hawyard's company was given £450,000 by the Welsh Government to refurbish the site.

He said the building would be worth £2.5m less, if Premier Inn pulls out.

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Media captionWarehouse 54 owner Iftekhar Harris says he is concerned venues like his are under threat

Iftekhar Harris, who owns Warehouse 54, said he had tried to work with Mr Hayward to address the concerns.

"There is a solution, but the solution involves them doing quite a bit of work," he said.

"You know, it's our heritage. Wales is renowned for music and we're in danger of losing all of that."

There are similar concerns in Cardiff, where campaigners are worried about the future of live music venues on Womanby Street.

Permission has been granted for a Wetherspoon's hotel on the street, and there is a separate application for a block of flats.

Venue owners believe this may lead to more noise complaints, which could affect the live music scene.

Some want the street to be officially recognised for the importance it plays in the night-time economy.

Guto Brychan, chief executive of Clwb Ifor Bach, said the venues were important for the development of new music.

"Coldplay, they played in Clwb back in 2001 to 2002," he said.

"Without that opportunity at the start of their career, would bands like Coldplay be able to carry on and develop their audience?"

Image caption Clwb Ifor Bach in Womanby Street, Cardiff

Jo Stevens, Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said she believed grassroots music should have the same status as theatre or opera, and is calling for the introduction of the "agent of change" principle in Wales.

It means the onus would be on developers to identify ways of reducing noise from nearby existing businesses.

Ms Stevens said: "If you're a developer and you want to build some residential premises here, you would have to pay and make sure that all the sound-proofing was done, because you wouldn't be able to then rely on complaints about noise from existing activities."

Cardiff council said there was "little scope" in current planning law to consider the cultural nature of an area.

The Welsh Government said planning policy was currently being reviewed and officials had met the Music Venues Trust to discuss the issue.

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