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Ravers rejoice as Blue Mountain re-opens pending major development

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CITY | REPORTS: gentrification, nightlife, stokes croft

“Temporary reprieve” for nightclub until council approves plans student flats in heart of Stokes Croft.

Beloved Stokes Croft nightclub Blue Mountain has reopened until planning permission is granted for the development, which the council has said must not “contribute to a harmful concentration of student housing in the area”.

The club had its closing party at the start of February, but announced it would reopen temporarily, while new owners get planning permission to build student flats.

In December, the Cable revealed that Blue Mountain had been purchased by RedOak Property, a development company registered in the tax-haven of Luxembourg, who have built luxury student accommodation in Nottingham worth £17 million.

“[The council] are absolutely not keen on having Bristol city centre knocked down to build a load of student flats”

RedOak bought the Bristol club in February 2018 for £950,000 and further research by the Cable has found that the developer also own a number of neighbouring properties and plan to turn the corner into an 11-story mixed-use development comprising of student accommodation and commercial outlets.

In September 2017, they purchased the building occupied by Sebright Printers and the now vacant land where the 2,000 capacity nightclub Clockwork used to stand. This was followed by the purchase of the building currently occupied by the legal charity, Avon and Bristol Law Centre in April 2018.

Blue Mountain announced this week that they had come to an agreement with their new owners to continue operating longer than expected. The club said on Facebook: “The Blue Mountain are ecstatic to announce that after a meeting with the new owners a few weeks ago that today they have agreed to allow us to continue past February as a club.

“We hope you are all as happy as we are that we can continue to be part of the Bristol club scene for a bit longer. See you on the dance floor.“

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A spokesperson for RedOak told the Cable the club had asked to remain open while they finalise their plans for the new developments with the council.

“We agreed that it’s better that the space is used and doesn’t lie empty so Blue Mountain will be allowed to stay open indefinitely while RedOak go through the planning application procedure and beyond,” the spokesperson said. “They will of course be given plenty of notice before we start developing the site.”

RedOak still have yet to submit their pre-planning application to the council – who will decide to approve or reject plans for the site.

Annie McGann from campaign group Save Bristol Nightlife, who revealed Blue Mountain’s reopening a few weeks ago, told the Cable the news was only a “temporary reprieve” and represented the “tip of the iceberg that will sink Bristol’s nightlife”.

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“Blue Mountain has until July to stay open,” she said. “At the moment the plan is for an 11-story student accommodation block with some kind of token retail/business space so they can get round the stumbling block of loss of jobs on the site. There are four separate sites that make up the plot RedOak want to build on and each one represents loss of employment for the neighbourhood.”

“The policy on the building of student accommodation is up for review this year, so keep an eye on what the council are doing in that process because they are absolutely not keen on having Bristol city centre knocked down to build a load of student flats.

“The loss both of this cultural asset to the area and the city and its employment impact would be a heavy blow to the city and one which the current development plan does not offer a solution to.”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson told the Cable: “There have not been any planning decisions on this site relating to student development. However some pre-application advice has been given in the past that advised in principle student development in the city centre would be supported if it did not create or contribute to a harmful concentration of student housing in the area.

“It also must justify the proposed loss of employment use and community facilities, along with further consideration of the scheme’s design in the Stokes Croft Conservation Area. This advice was based on the current Bristol Local Plan.”

The proposed development comes at a time when Stokes Croft is undergoing substantial change. Apart from the announced closure of neighbouring nightclub Lakota and social enterprise Coexist leaving Hamilton House, demolition work began in November on Westmoreland House and the Carriageworks.

Both buildings had been derelict since 1976 and had since become well known spots for local graffiti artists. The development of the site at the corner of Ashley Road and Cheltenham Road will see 112 new luxury homes and several commercial spaces built.

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