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Half of Bristol's music venues at risk

14 March 2016

Half of all live music venues in Bristol are under threat from new housing developments filling up the city centre.

Bristol Live Music Census conducted by UK Music found that the Bristol music scene generated a total of £123 million and helped support 927 full time equivalent jobs throughout the city.

But new developments converting offices to homes are putting half of the 94 music venues at risk from future noise complaints which can lead to closures.

“Bristol has a vibrant and exciting live music scene at grass-roots level but our research found that the unintended consequences of changes to planning legislation have created a real threat to the future of small venues, which are central to the city's future," said Teresa Moore from Bucks New University who headed the research.

The Fleece owner Chris Sharp invested in the venue five years ago. The Fleece has recently been under threat with the developments surrounding the venue.

“There are two main developments going on at the moment," Sharp told Bristol24/7. "We have one happening behind the stage on Thomas Street and another next door."

Although The Fleece has not yet been affected by these developments, the venue has already spent money on legal fees on fighting certain conditions at the developments. 

“We should be concentrating on bringing in new artists and actually organising gigs," Sharp said.

He added: “Bristol as a whole, we don’t have enough housing. It’s a positive for all these developments. But these developers, neighbours and locals need to be aware of locality so it doesn’t affect us all in these negative ways.

“It’s about looking out for your neighbours, not money making despite everything the locals do for each other.”

Research suggests that nearly a quarter of the live music audience comes from outside of the Bristol area and have travelled more than 10 miles to a music event in Bristol.

Kerry McCarthy MP for Bristol East, who regularly attends gigs in some of the smaller venues in Bristol, said: “There is an urgent need for new housing in Bristol, but we cannot allow new developments to destroy the venues that make our city centre such a vibrant place to live, work and play.”

UK Music’s research found that 72 per cent of musicians surveyed said they were playing more live gigs than the previous year.

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