‘Together we have changed the conversation’: Holiday flats plan that threatened the Crescent is thrown out

The Crescent, and its neighbouring buildings. Photograph: YorkMix

A controversial planning application to create flats next door to a popular live music venue has been refused.

Plans for four holiday flats to be created in the former Crescent Day Nursery – next door to The Crescent Community Venue – were turned down by City of York Council’s planning committee.

More than 220 letters raising concerns about the scheme have been sent to the council.

And the planning application sparked the creation of York Music Venue Network, followed by a council motion to support the city’s venues, which was backed by all councillors.

Harkirit Boparai from The Crescent told the planning committee: “Time and time again developments near music venues have led to sound complaints, which in turn has led to significant restrictions on what a venue can do, often leading to closures in the long term.

“We don’t want to see empty buildings around us but we want to work productively with anyone who wants to make use of them. I’d prefer an equitable solution for everyone.”

Blown away

Planners discuss the application

“I’ve actually been blown away by the positive discussions we’ve been involved in since [the council motion],” Harkirit said.

“I want to pay credit to the councillors enabling music venues to finally be seen as cultural assets.”

Lee Vincent, architect speaking on behalf of the applicant, said soundproofing would be installed at the flats and pointed to Kuda nightclub on Clifford Street as an example of a venue with apartments next door. He said the building was not suitable for a nursery.

He said: “The music venue has been a place to enjoy music for decades and has co-existed with its predominantly residential neighbours successfully.

“There are over 50 residential properties within 50 metres of this site.

“Venues can co-exist with residential neighbours and the authority has agreed with this in the past.

“The club has always been constrained, or we would say benefited by, its residential location.”

Saving a cultural asset

She Drew The Gun perform at The Crescent in October. Photograph: The Crescent on Facebook

The planning application was rejected by a majority vote at the virtual meeting.

Speaking after the meeting, Harkirit thanked people who have supported The Crescent, saying: “We’re happy to see the application rejected in its current state.

“This is in part thanks to Music Venue Trust, the cooperation of other venues through York Music Venue Network, and many other our concerned supporters who wrote to their local councillors expressing their concerns.

“We want to thank all of you for your support. Together we have changed the conversation around music venues in York, and demonstrated that developments need to work for everyone.

“We now wait and see whether the developers will appeal this decision, but we would encourage them to reach out and start talking to us, so we can come to an agreement that works for everybody.

“We are surrounded by developers on all sides, but find that where there is good communication, fruitful results can happen that respect cultural assets rather than destroy them.”