Published: 13:00, 29 October 2014
| Updated: 13:15, 29 October 2014
Plans for nine flats to be built next to a well-known music venue in Tunbridge Wells have been given the go-ahead - despite concerns over noise complaints.
The proposal for flats and basement parking on the site of an abandoned garage in London Road were submitted to planners at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in July, and were approved at a meeting on Tuesday .
Jason Dormon and Mark Davyd, who run the venue, were concerned if plans went ahead new residents could complain about noise which may eventually lead to The Forum’s closure.
Councillors were divided about whether flats were an appropriate proposal for the site. Cllr Woodward said: “Remember the old fuel station and the car wash service, which was by no means an improvement? This application is a major improvement. The site is inappropriate for retail use, but these flats will fit in with the street scene.”
Cllr Backhouse raised the ongoing concerns of Mr Dormon and Mr Davyd who fear new residents would be unhappy living next to the venue.
“In three to five years time when we receive the first complaint letter, we will be waving a flag saying ‘I told you so’" - Mark Davyd...
He said: “I am concerned that because the Forum attracts visitors on weekends and in the evening that complaints will be made by the people living in the new development. Are members satisfied about the noise mitigation plans?”
Planning officers ensured that triple glazing windows would be used, non-opening windows would be fitted to the southern and western flats, and the building will incorporate a suitable ‘whole house’ ventilation system in a bid to reduce noise.
Following the unanimous decision for approval, Mr Davyd said: “We will need to look at the planning restrictions put in place. Our position remains the same on the building of these flats but it is now the developer’s responsibility to ensure the residents can live there in peace and quiet.
“In three to five years time when we receive the first complaint letter, we will be waving a flag saying ‘I told you so.
“This is happening all over the country and music venues need to be protected. I am not disappointed by the decision, congratulations should be given for the approval, but I question whether the flats can be developed to a good enough standard to prevent noise complaints.
"When, not if, those noise complaints start, the local council, whatever they think of The Forum and whatever the local community think the town needs, will be obliged by the law to demand that The Forum meets the needs of those new residents.
"Complaints will close this venue, because we simply don't have the thousands of pounds it will cost in legal fees, sound insulation, fines, noise limiters to carry on
"I am glad the issue was discussed at the planning meeting and want this to be remembered when the first complaint is received.”
Jason and Mark both sit on the board of the Music Venue Trust, a national organisation that is working to protect and secure music venues like The Forum across the UK.
It is working to change the law because by changing national law the trust claims it can 'empower councils, including Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to support their music venues'.
A petition has been launched to as the Culture Secretary Rt Hon Sajid David MP to do just that. It has been signed by nearly 30,000 people.
Mark added: "We are incredibly grateful for all the messages of support and concern we have received, and recognise that many of you are determined to take action to help.
"You can do that. You can do it by signing Frank's petition, sharing this message and telling everyone you know about it, promoting it, asking other people to sign it. Be a pain in the arse about it."
For more information watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgrb4GIZyUI