MUSIC industry experts and promoters fear that the Sub Club’s fears over planning applications highlights a wider threat to live music and that other clubs and venues throughout Scotland may also be at risk.

READ MORE: Promoters fear impact of planned Wetherspoon hotel beside Glasgow's Sub Club

Mark Davyd, CEO of the influential Music Venue Trust, said the decision to allow a hotel to be built next to the club did not seem to be in line with the Agent of Change principle favoured by the Scottish Government and was typical of the problems facing music venues throughout the UK. 

Venues in Scotland generate around £350 million for the economy. Glasgow alone brings in £159.7m.

“Essentially the decision as it currently stands flies in the face of every bit of advice we have offered and is going against the general direction of the Scottish Government,” said Davyd.

He said the decision was “a sad failure” of the planning process as there were now ways that music venues could be protected from potential clashes with new developments.

“Glasgow wants to think of itself as a city of culture and music and it has all the tools to make that happen so I don’t know why they are not using them or listening to all the advice that has been given,” said Davyd.

He added that the decision had a broader impact on the music scene in the UK.
“Everybody is worried about the closure of too many music venues because of new developments,” he said. “Each one of these closures tends to be viewed in isolation but the Sub Club is part of the whole picture of venues closing right across the country. A total of 36% of all music venues in the UK have closed in the last 10 years.

“New developments are a massive problem because music venues do make a noise. That’s what they are supposed to do. If you want to build there you can build in protection but in this case that isn’t happening. 

One of Scotland’s most successful music promoters Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts and the owner of the King Tut’s venue, pictured below, in Glasgow, pointed out that the Sub Club was regularly voted amongst the best clubs in the world. 

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“This pioneering club has been responsible for creating and developing club culture in Glasgow and throughout Scotland,” he said. “It was recently recognised as one of three key assets for the city within the ‘Growing the value for Music Tourism in Glasgow’ report published by the Scottish Music Industry Association, standing alongside King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and the Barrowland Ballroom.

He added that King Tut’s had recently faced three applications for planning developments next to the venue, two of which were passed with conditions that he said fell short of what is required by a planning department in a Unesco City of Music as they “failed to show how they would provide adequate protection”. 

Ellis said grassroots music venues like the Sub Club and King Tut’s play an integral part in the health and wealth of the music industry as they gave artists a chance to hone their skills.

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The iconic Barrowland Ballroom

“If an imbalance occurs in one area, it will cause a detrimental impact to other parts of the chain,” he said. “You cannot have the Paolo Nutinis, Calvin Harris, Biffy Clyro, Simple Minds, Texas, Snow Patrol, SLAM, Denis Sulta or the TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow Summer Sessions or The Hydro without all parts of the sum.

“Whilst the Planning Bill is currently under review and changes are being discussed to provide protection to music venues in the future, this offers little consolation to legendary venues such as the Sub Club and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut who have seen them granted to nearby developments.

‘‘It makes it even more important to ensure that pressure is continued on the Government to ensure the new Planning Bill delivers the necessary protection that is required to future proof our music industry.” 

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The Hydro opened back in 2013

Music promoter Dave Clarke said the decision to build a hotel next to the Sub Club would result in a calamity unless the developers were made to take steps to protect future 
residents from music noise.

“I’m really shocked this has been allowed to happen as the Sub Club is not just special within Glasgow but is a world famous venue,” said Clarke of Slam Events.

“Many of Glasgow’s musicians and recording artists that have gone on to travel the world have cut their teeth in there. It’s been an inspiration to see the amount of talent flowing through that place.”

He said Glasgow punched well above its weight internationally in terms of music with the likes of the Sub Club and King Tut’s bringing in people from outside the city.
“Music is one of the reasons Glasgow is famous. We’ve already had the calamity of the Arches closure so this is not a good advert for the city. I hope we get some common sense