Hitchin music venue Club 85 is set to be demolished for flats, according to a new planning application that has been submitted.
- READ MORE: UK grassroots venues “going over a cliff” without urgent government action or investment from arenas
The much-loved music venue on the Whinbush Road in the North Hertfordshire town would be replaced by 16 apartments with vehicle access, according to plans submitted by the owners of Club 85.
Hitchin Club 85 landlord and owner Jas Lidder told Hitchin Nub News that it “wasn’t an easy decision for the owners”.
The last time I played Club 85, I was much smaller.
Hitchin’s lucky to have a full-time music venue with so much love & history behind it. Club 85’s a cultural asset that gives so much to the community. So the news of the proposal to replace it with flats is pretty devastating. pic.twitter.com/tj3o30xyQj
— David Ephgrave 🇺🇦 💙 (@David_Ephgrave) September 20, 2023
Lidder added that “the most important thing in life is your health and mental wellness”.
“Therefore, it’s time for both to enjoy their [Jas & Ranjit Lidder] life after working 70+ hours per week for multiple years.”
“We can assure you that every option was explored and evaluated, but we’ve decided the best choice was to develop the site. The decision wasn’t easy for both after all the hard work that the family has put into Club 85 since 1985 and the sacrifices to make it the best community hub in the area.
“We’d like to additionally pass our thanks on to [manager] Bob Mardon for the last 20 years, his hard work and dedication have led to Club 85 being the best live music venue in the area. We will both support Bob in developing a new grassroots venue.
“Lastly, we’d like to thank all the great people who have come through the doors over the last 38 years and becoming a part of the Club 85 family.”
Mardon said in his own statement that while he was grateful to see the support for the venue through objections to the application, “we would like to encourage you to act with kindness towards our landlord, we have no ill will towards Jas, we understand his decision to retire and we can understand wanting to do what is in the interest of supporting family”.
— Phoenix Phil Morley (@PhoenixPhilM) September 19, 2023
Hitchin Bearton ward councillor Ian Albert yesterday told local newspaper The Comet that the plans came as “sad news for the residents of Hitchin”, adding that he wants to understand the reasons for the application.
“This is desperately sad news for the residents of Hitchin and music lovers far and wide. The Club in its present form has operated for nearly 40 years,” he told the newspaper.
The councillor said that he has proposed a “community ownership scheme” to Club 85 in an effort to secure the grassroots venue’s future.
Just this week, NME reported that the UK is set to lose 10 per cent of its grassroots music venues in 2023, as calls are growing for the “major leagues” of the music industry and larger venues to do more to pay into the ecosystem and save them.
It comes as Enter Shikari recently announced that they would be donating £1 from every ticket sold to their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour to benefit the Music Venue Trust.
“There are a lot of new arenas on the way, while at the same time there is no support whatsoever for the grassroots circuit,” frontman Rou Reynolds told NME.
At the same time, a hearing to determine the future of Sheffield venue The Leadmill took place this week, as protesters gathered outside the Town Hall in support of saving it.