More needs to be done to ensure the survival of small music venues according to one custodian – despite the Scottish Government announcing it will adopt a new policy over noise disturbance.
The Agent of Change principle means developers putting up new residential buildings near music venues will be responsible for taking appropriate measures to ensure local people are not disturbed by noise.
But Craig Adams, owner of the city’s Krakatoa bar – formerly known as The Moorings, said it does nothing to protect long-established venues when new residents move into existing properties in close proximity.
He said: “When you look at the closures we’ve seen recently, maybe only half of them have related to new housing developments.
“A lot of it relates to new people moving in to existing developments who are intolerant of music venues and this legislation does nothing to address that problem.
“We’ve been pushing for when a music venue has made a significant investment in their sound proofing – we’ve done everything we can to reduce the noise – then we’d hope they would make a cultural exemption to exclude them from any noise complaints, so people don’t have grounds. It hasn’t done that at all.”
In recent years Krakatoa has shelled out more than £250,000 to soundproof the venue and spent even more to buy five of the six properties above the pub.
Since then, the venue has not received any noise complaints, but Craig admitted he was fearful any time a letter arrived from Aberdeen City Council.
“If someone raises a complaint we can still be shut down and then that investment is completely squandered,” Craig added.
“We have absolutely taken the soundproofing as far as we can outside the realms of science fiction.
“I could go into work today and have a letter waiting for me. We have to live with that stress, every time you see a brown envelope with the council on it you think ‘oh no’.
“We can’t do anything about it now, that would be it, it would be game over for us.”
Venues to close in the city in recent years due to sound complaints include Downstairs, on Holburn Street, and Cellar 35, on Rosemount Viaduct.
“Bands have got to start playing somewhere. It’s difficult for us to give bands their first gig as we’re a 200-capacity venue,” Craig said.
“You really need smaller venues with capacity for 60, 80 or 100 that can do it night in, night out. But such a thing would need funding to work.”
Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart said: “Our music industry is hugely important – both culturally and economically and we are taking steps to protect music venues.
“However, we recognise that the impact of new developments is not the only challenge music venues face, which is why we are listening to the sector and working with our partners to do what we can to support the music industry.”