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Nightingale club could lose its balconies

The Nightingale Club in Birmingham’s Gay Village could lose its outdoor balconies if an agreement is reached with a planned apartment complex nearby.

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The Nightingale club in Birmingham. PIC: Google Street View

The balconies, which overlook Kent Street, could become collateral damage as planners attempt to mitigate noise levels for future residents.

The development will hold over 450 flats if its application is approved by Birmingham City Council and will occupy the block to the west of the Nightingale. Night-time noise from the Fox, another popular venue directly opposite the site, is also being looked at by developers.

Just over £1.3 million has been set aside for noise prevention measures. Some of these could include the closure of the first and second-floor balconies, replacement of ground-floor doors, and noise mitigation added to windows, walls and the roof of the club.

There could also be a redesigned ‘acoustically treated’ ground-floor smoking area and a new second-floor smoking area at the rear of the club. These measures are expected to cost around £600,000, with the remainder of the £1.3 million earmarked for affordable housing.

Lawrence Barton, owner of the Nightingale Club and Festival Director of Birmingham Pride, said that plans between the venue and developers are yet to be agreed upon. However, he confirmed that the balconies would be lost in the event an agreement is reached.

He said: “The council has been very supportive of our plight, but the discussion has gone backwards and forwards. If we reach an agreement in the future, which I certainly hope so, we will not be able to have the outdoor balconies. That will be one of the changes we make.”

Asked if the noise mitigation measures would harm the clubbing experience, Mr Barton said: “We are confident that the measures won’t harm the club. When developers come into an area with clubs, bars and a night-time economy, they have to work with operators so that any mitigation is there to protect both parties.

“We welcome the development. But of course, it has to respect and accommodate the LGBTQI community and its night-time economy.”

Another way planners have attempted to mitigate noise levels is to seal windows shut in up to 10 per cent of apartments. Last month, plans for another sprawling apartment complex in the Gay Village on Hurst Street were approved by the council and included up to 150 apartments with sealed windows.

This Hurst Street development will be built directly opposite the Village Inn, another popular LGBTQI venue in the area. When asked whether these huge developments will have a negative impact on the scene in the Gay Village, Mr Barton, who also owns the Village Inn, said that ‘remains to be seen’.

He added: “The relationship between residential and night-time economies can work. If you take any major city centre or gay districts like Soho in London or Manchester, then inevitably over time, residential developments are going to be more commonplace. What each developer has to be mindful of is that they have to respect the community and the night-time economy that is already there.

“We are not invisible. These night-time economy venues are not invisible. They are going to have people coming out at unsociable hours and people making noise. It’s a complex puzzle of trying to navigate our way forward and embracing developments, while also not ruining the LGBTQI community. I think there is space for both of them.”

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