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New gig venue opening at former Carling Academy in Birmingham

The historic former Carling Academy in Birmingham city centre will be given a new lease of life after an ambitious plan to open a new live gig venue was given the go-ahead.

The old Academy venue in Dale End
The old Academy venue in Dale End

Brothers Hitesh and Manoj Chauhan, through their company Dale End Ltd, want to resurrect the building which has sat empty for seven years as the Birmingham Forum in Dale End.

They plan to host live music concerts, pantomime and theatre shows, indoor sporting events, club nights, comedy, university graduation ceremonies and even host auditions for popular talent shows X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.

And their dreams took a major step forward when Birmingham City Council’s licensing sub committee approved the application.

It will be allowed to open from 10am to 6am Mondays to Saturdays and 12 noon to 3am on Sundays.

Pics at the Birmingham Carling Academy of Pete Doherty who was there with his band Babyshambles in 2005

A number of conditions have also been placed on the licence around making CCTV available to the police, security and staff training.

Bosses will also have to send a monthly planner of events taking place 28 days in advance while police will have the power to veto events held by external promoters if there are concerns about them.

The Chauhans currently hold licences for city centre venues The Q Club in Corporation Street, Monastery in High Street and The Lock in Gas Street.

They have appointed experienced entertainment and nightclub boss David Elphick as designated premises supervisor for Birmingham Forum.

Barrister Sarah Clover, who represented the applicants, said: “This is a visionary and positive application for a major premises. It is a very large and significant venue in Birmingham in the daytime and night-time economy.

“What the applicants are looking to do is exactly what you’d imagine with live gigs, live music, major artists, it’s for things like X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, pantomimes, comedy shows and all of those sort of things that the premises were built for.

Arctic Monkeys at The Carling Academy, Birmingham in 2007

“The gentlemen behind the application are experienced operators within the Birmingham nigh-time economy.

“This is a very important time for event spaces. Having spaces like this draws in major audiences and is a very important boost to a city like Birmingham.

“Birmingham has got spaces but this one is sitting there growing cobwebs and there is no reason for that.”

West Midlands Police did object to the opening hours, saying there was no need for the Forum to be open so long.

Licensing officer PC Abdool Rohomon also raised concerns about the Chauhans and submitted a 300 page dossier outlining individual calls and complaints police had received regarding their three venues.

One of these, regarding an alleged assault of a customer by a bouncer at the Q Club, led to a review in May 2016 and the licence being suspended for three months.

Amy Winehouse at The Carling Academy, in 2007. Picture by: Jason Sheldon

PC Rohomon said he was not against the Forum opening but wanted to restrict opening hours until midnight from Sundays to Thursday and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. He also suggested strict conditions be placed on the licence.

But Miss Clover said the substance of those incidents listed in the dossier amounted to nothing more than “he said, she said and they didn’t say”.

She added the Q Club incident in 2016 was resolved on appeal and the venue reopened while the committee at the time described it as an ‘isolated incident’.

She said: “There are some significant slurs on management competence in those papers which are not accepted and never have been.”

The historic venue has previously been called The Hummingbird and the O2 Academy and, in its pomp, hosted some of the biggest names in rock and pop.

The Charlatans at the Academy in 2006

It was called The Birmingham Ballroom when it closed its doors in January 2013.

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