Advertisement

Womanby Street live music campaign: Calls to protect Wales' grassroots venues

Campaigners warn live music is under threat unless planning laws are changed to protect venues from complaints about noise.

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition to call for more protection for clubs in Womanby Street, near Cardiff Castle.

Watch my report below:

The owners blamed financial pressures and uncertainty over possible developments nearby.

I think if this street falls it'll be the ripple in the pond that creates the wave that will take the whole boat down.

There are people all over Wales that are looking to venues like this and this cluster of venues and saying this is the first step in my career, the first step on ladder.

If we take out the first step, it makes that journey so much harder for them. And we're going to see a decline in grassroots music nationwide.

– Thom Bentley, the Full Moon Cardiff
The

Venue owners say current planning laws are unfair, and leave established venues vulnerable to complaints from the occupants of new schemes.

The onus then shifts currently within the planning framework onto us as a venue to sort out any likely complaints that would emanate from activities held in this building, activities that we've been doing here for over thirty years.

– Guto Brychan, Clwb Ifor Bacj

In Carmarthen, there's another story of struggle and survival.

The Parrot music bar closed three years ago.

A crowdfunding campaign to help it reopen raised £11,000.

With the booking and promotion of gigs organised by a collective, the team operating the venue day-to-day are trying to broaden what it offers by launching a new cafe and bar and expanding the record shop upstairs.

There was a big outpouring of support, and to get that was heartening.

If we didn't have gigs on before, we didn't really have people here. So we thought if we've got a bit of good beer, that's going to bring people in as well. We don't have to stress and put three or four gigs a week on.

We're doing arts and kind of prints and t shirts, which hopefully will help sustain it.

– Matt Davies, The Parrot

Campaigners want to see a special designation for areas like Womanby Street to limit potential residential schemes.

They're also calling for a change to the planning system similar to England, where the responsibility to limit noise will fall on the developers of new premises.

It's already been partially adopted in England, so that the person proposing to deal with the soundproofing issues for examples. And it seems only fair to me that we do adopt the principle in Wales - it has to be done sooner or later.

– Dr Paul Carr, University of South Wales

Cardiff Council says it has to follow national planning guidelines, and doesn't have the power to designate Womanby Street "as an area of cultural significance".

The now-closed Full Moon

The Welsh Government says it has met the Music Venue Trust to hear its arguments.

Planning Policy Wales is currently being reviewed and Welsh Government officials have already met with the Music Venues Trust in relation to this issue.

The cultural contribution of music venues is acknowledged and this is being given consideration as part of the review of policy.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Campaigners warn that's a contribution that can't be taken for granted...