Bristol’s Thekla music venue under threat of closure

The Thekla music venue
The Thekla music venue (Image credit: Getty)

The future of Bristol’s famous Thekla music venue is under threat due to plans for a proposed residential development.

The club is moored in the Mud Dock area of Bristol’s floating harbour, with The Bristol Post reporting that planners are seeking to transform three derelict buildings into homes, office and leisure space at the nearby Redcliffe Wharf.

The newspaper say that a planning committee is due to meet to make a decision on the application later today (Wednesday).

It is feared that if the development gets the green light, noise regulations could spell the end for the venue.

The Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd tells The Bristol Post: “Sensible and adequately planned residential developments near to grassroots music venues like the Thekla mean that residents and music lovers can happily co-exist.

“That outcome starts at the planning application stage when a good developer recognises the cultural value of the existing music venue and takes steps to protect it.

“Recognising the existence of an iconic music venue like Thekla starts with a thorough environmental impact study that specifically understands the noise in the area.

“Properly understanding noise and activity results in great design for any refurbishment or new building, ensuring noise is managed and controlled, and in commitments such as Deed of Easement and accurate marketing to future residents.”

He adds: “We are concerned if that process has happened so far in the proposed development near Thekla and would encourage the developer to start it.”

The venue has now launched a Save Thekla social media campaign, urging people to use the #savethekla hashtag.

In 2014, Bristol’s The Fleece was placed in a similar situation, but remained open when the city council proposed a number of strict noise level requirements.

Earlier this year, the plight of many small venues in England was highlighted when Arts Council England rejected a funding application from the charity Music Venue Trust whose goal is to “improve and protect UK grassroots music venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists.”

Many smaller venues across the UK, including Manchester’s Roadhouse and the Cockpit in Leeds, have been forced to close their doors in recent years due to noise abatement legislation, rising rents and plans to convert the land they occupy into office space and residential property.

Earlier this year, Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson condemned the closure of small music venues across the UK and called for more to be done to ensure their future.

Small venues face struggle after funding bid fail

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.