UPDATE: This story has not died down. There's been huge response to this post, and a lot of fresh coverage in local media (BBC WM, the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail (with a terrific comment from John Mostyn, which you can also read here), Phil Parkin via Chamberlain Files, along with much Tweeting and Facebookery). There is a huge groundswell of protest against this. And as yet, no statement or explanation has emerged from Birmingham City Council to explain why they suddenly reversed their previous decision.
Birmingham City Council Planning Committee mysteriously and unilaterally reverses its decision to protect the Hare and Hounds. And they say there's no appeal.
Yesterday, I and hundreds of others who had voiced concerns to Birmingham City Council's Planning and Regeneration office, got emails saying the Planning Officer has reversed the council’s decision to oppose a property development right next to the Hare and Hounds venue.
This is the latest in a series of decisions by BCC planning favouring speculative property developments in close proximity to existing music venues. Often the venues are forced to stop putting music on. We've lost several already, and it damages our music infrastructure each time this happens. Initially, the council had been prepared to rule in favour of the Hare and Hound's objections, on a (second) application from the developer. Now, an email has gone out saying that this has been overturned. And the council's note says the decision can not be appealed.
So... the threat to the Hare is back. Allegedly – I got this from two sources – there was concern about the possibility of legal action from the property developer. This seems to have led to the Planning Officer over-ruling the committee’s December decision. I hear some councillors are up in arms.
If this is truly the case, it is appalling, gutless, bone-headed and inexplicable. The council is supposed to represent the interests of everyone in this city. It does not make good business sense to risk another grassroots music venue going dark, especially one as well-run as this one. And our local music sector delivers a multi-million pound yearly contribution to the city’s economy.
Worst of all, the implication would be that every time a property developer - allegedly - says boo, the council rolls over. If you remotely care about our music scene, you should be incandescent about this.
See the December Radio To Go post here for more background, and arguments to keep the Hare as is in greater detail.
See also these comments from Phil Parkin and John Mostyn