The future of The Fleece looks bright

The-FleeceThe owner of Bristol’s premiere rock and metal venue, The Fleece, hopes that its future has been secured.

The club, which has been open for 32 years, was under threat earlier this year when planning permission was sought to convert an office building opposite the site in to a block of flats. Similar projects in other areas of the country have lead to the closure of clubs when new residents start to complain of the noise.

Fleece owner Chris Sharp was unsatisfied with reports that his club would not cause a problem for potential new flat owners, and commissioned his own study. The resulting report led to the recommendation that the developers of the flats would need to ensure that additional soundproofing would be required to be installed during the building process. Sharp had already carried out soundproofing work at The Fleece.

Developers at first threatened to continue the build without the newly recommended level of soundproofing, but Bristol City Council have now branded their position a “bullying” strategy and have enforced a set of restrictions when granting approval for the flats. They include permanently sealing windows that face The Fleece, and the use of mechanical ventilation.

Additionally, developers won’t be allowed to let anyone move in to the flats until they’ve ensured noise from The Fleece doesn’t affect living standards in the building.

Said Sharp of the ruling: “This is a really positive day for our Save The Fleece campaign. We’re delighted the city council applied conditions to the approval notice, and we’re satisfied the measures will considerably reduce the likelihood of noise complaints.”

“Our fight is far from over as the developer still has the right to appeal,” he continued, “but the future of the venue is definitely looking brighter.”

Following the relaxation of planning laws in the UK, and the current noise control laws, just one complaint from a nearby resident can result in a venue’s license being revoked. Both The Blind Tiger club in Brighton and the 200 Club in Newport have closed recently as a result of similar issues.

Sharp’s “Save The Fleece Campaign” had secured around 41,500 signatories for it’s online petition aimed at ensuring the future of the club.

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Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A “under threat”

RCA Studio A - Nashville

Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A is under threat according to current tenant, Ben Folds.

In an open letter to the city of Nashville, published in The Tennessean, Folds says that the building is to be sold to the Brentwood development company. Folds took over the lease of the building 12 years ago, and says that he does not know what the plans are for the building.

The letter reads: “Last week, on the day that would have been Chet Atkins’ 90th birthday (June 20, 1924), my office received news that the historic RCA Building on Music Row is set to be sold. This building, with the historic Studio A as its centerpiece, was Atkins’ and Owen Bradley’s vision and baby, and had become home to the largest classic recording space in Nashville. Word is that the prospective buyer is a Brentwood TN-based commercial development company called Bravo Development, owned and operated by Tim Reynolds. We don’t know what this will mean to the future of the building.”

Folds continues: “Most of us know about Studio B. Studio A was its grander younger sibling, erected by Atkins when he became an RCA executive. The result was an orchestral room built to record strings for Elvis Presley and to entice international stars to record in one of these four Putnam-designed RCA spaces in the world. The other three RCA studios of the same dimensions – built in LA, Chicago and New York – have long since been shut down. I can’t tell you how many engineers, producers and musicians have walked into this space to share their stories of the great classic recorded music made here that put Nashville on the map. I’ve heard tales of audio engineers who would roller skate around the room waiting for Elvis to show up at some point in the weeks he booked, stories about how Eddy Arnold recording one of the first sessions in the room and one of the songs was ‘Make The World Go Away’, Dolly Parton (Jolene) and The Monkees recorded here, and so on.”

Read more from Folds in The Tennessean here, where Folds has made clear that he’s not opposed to progress, but is concerned that Nashville may be running roughshod over buildings of historic significance to the city and the music industry.

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Bristol rock venue The Fleece ‘under threat’

The-FleeceThe owner of legendary Bristol live music venue, The Fleece, has said that the club is under threat from closure.

Plans have been submitted to the local authority for the conversion of a nearby office block into 80 residential flats. The plans suggest that some bedrooms would be just 20 metres from The Fleece’s stage.

The venue’s supporters fear that this would lead to noise complaints and subsequent closure of the club. Similar events have played out in recent months with the closure of several British live music venues.

The Blind Tiger Club in Brighton, which had been hosting live performances for 160 years, shut down earlier this week as a result of a noise abatement order following a complaint from one neighbour. Manchester’s Night And Day was threatened with closure in January after a similar situation arose. The 200 Club in Newport was shut last year after noise complaints.

Chris Sharp, owner of The Fleece, has started an online petition to stop the conversion of the flats going ahead. You can sign it by clicking here.

Says Sharp: “”The venue has thrived for 32 years and one of the key factors in its success has been its location.

“The lack of residents in the surrounding streets has meant we can offer live music seven nights a week, and club nights until 4am on weekends, without disturbing anyone.

“The Fleece has never had any issues with noise complaints. If the office block next door is converted into private flats, we anticipate a deluge of complains as soon as people move in.”

A report commissioned by Bristol City Council concluded that The Fleece would not be the main noise concern in the area, but the club’s Marketing Manager, Nathan Stone, disagrees.

“We employed another acoustic consultant to analyse the original findings,” says Stone, “and we believe they are invalid due to a range of considerations. They didn’t look at low frequency noises and their microphones weren’t placed to identify noise coming from the venue.”

The second report also adds that balconies are planned for the part of the office block overlooking the Fleece, and that “noise levels will be unacceptably high.”

Sharp’s petition calls on Bristol City Council to deny planning permission for the flats and therefore remove the threat of closure from The Fleece. The petition has a target of 100,000 signatures, and has accrued around 19,000 to date.

You can help support Chris Sharp’s cause to save The Fleece by signing the petition here.

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