People Power Comes Together To Protect The Ouseburn
In the space of a day we saw a campaign to protect the cultural heart and soul of Newcastle's Ouseburn Valley area grow to become an inspiring demonstration of our community spirit, but also a case study in why we need to protect our independent venues.
Spearheaded by the Tyne Bar, a petition was created on the 30th of April to raise awareness for, and attempt to halt, plans by Newcastle's council to build an aparthotel close to their premises.
Initially the plans may seem appealing to some as an attempt to renovate what has become a derelict and graffiti covered set of bricks into a new and modern project, complete with new paying customers within close proximity to the bar, however the true picture is in fact quite different.
Fred Plater, owner of The Tyne Bar, said: “we are objecting because we feel that this hotel would be completely at odds with its surroundings and a very real threat to the live music scene in the Ouseburn valley.
It is almost inevitable that hotel guests will complain about the music and this could have very serious consequences for us and other venues nearby, as well as the local music scene as a whole."
The placement of the aparthotel would be directly between the Tyne Bar and Little Buildings, both of which frequently house gigs and music festivals including the upcoming Evolution Emerging Festival in June.
Highlighting the wider issues, Fred went on to state that “grassroots music venues are closing at an alarming rate all across the country and it would be a tragedy if Ouseburn venues went the same way. The music is a huge part of what makes this place so special, and the affection and love that people have for the Ouseburn can be seen in the staggering response to our petition."
And staggering it has been, with the count rapidly approaching 15,000 signatures as of May 9th, and it shows no sign of stopping there.
Jay Landman of Truth Hurts Promotion and Management is also keen to show support for the cause, stating that "The Ouseburn is often considered to be the cultural and artistic centre of Newcastle, comparable to the likes of the Northern Quarter in Manchester.
As such, whilst the idea of such a hotel in Ouseburn may have good intentions, it is unlikely that the reality will reflect this. Existing venues in Ouseburn would likely receive increased noise complaints and nearby residents would have to contend with additional building work and hotel residents, of which it could be expected a number may be visiting Newcastle as part of the many stag and hen parties that are drawn to the city."
Jay, who was also the brainchild of this year's hugely successful Canny Fringe Festival which took place in several venues in the Ouseburn area, summarises the endeavour as "inappropriate for all involved" and has proven to be just one of many who are concerned by the larger implications the plans could bring forward.
One such protester being local music producer Olly Cobb who saw the development plans as: "the first step in extracting an organic, growing music scene that has already seen some incredible young talent emerging."
Fred Plater has pledged to continue to "urge the Planning Committee to recognise the social and cultural value of live music and to think carefully about the impact of any proposed development that would adversely affect our liv eMusic spaces."
We at Spotlight join with Fred and the local music community in the hope that the undeniable groundswell of opinion against the hotel will be taken into account by the Planning Committee going forward and, frankly, it has been inspiring to watch so many come together with this shared goal.
For more information and to sign the ever growing petition follow the link here: