Ministry of Sound

The Ministry of Sound’s future is safe – for now!

The Ministry of Sound have finally won their battle to stop a 41 storey tower block being constructed next to their famous London home amid fears that the development could have led to the closure of one of the world’s biggest nightclubs. Southark Council’s Planning Committee voted unanimously 5 – 0 (with one abstentation) against the proposal, which would have seen some 255 flats built in an area that has no residential development. Bosses from the club feared that with so many people living next door, noise and nuisance complaints would have been inevitable and the posibility of losing their license a distinct possibility.

The developers Oakmayne, had offered to “triple glaze” the first 20-30 storeys of flats immediately facing the club, and argued that the venue and residents could co-exist.

Ministry of Sound, which also runs one of Britain’s two largest independent record labels from the site, had offered to buy the Oakmayne site to provide alternative development. But with relations between the property owner and the club so combative it is not obvious this will lead to a solution.

Oakmayne chairman Christopher Allen said the developer would consider whether to appeal. He added: “We are both confused and bitterly disappointed by the planning committee’s decision, which was made against their own officer recommendations and the weight of expert evidence in support of Eileen House.” He said the decision would “cost the people of Southwark” and that “what will remain is a 1960s obsolete eyesore and the area, which desperately needs regeneration, will continue to stagnate”.

Lohan Presencer, the chief executive of Ministry of Sound, said that planning committee had arrived at the “correct decision” and said that “now is the time for all concerned to come together to find a positive vision for the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle.” The club owner said it would seek a meeting with the developer to try and come up with a new proposal.

Southwark council said that it was keen to see the Elephant & Castle area redeveloped. Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration, said, “The Eileen House site is a prime location in central London, and in the Elephant & Castle regeneration opportunity area. Any improvement to this area would be of great benefit to local people. We’re very keen to see a development go ahead on this site and will be looking into the next steps forward.”

London nightclubs often have only short-term existences, with changing land use a perennial threat. The Cross in London’s King’s Cross closed in 2008 ahead of the wider redevelopment of the site behind the station; Turnmills in Clerkenwell, the first UK venue with a 24-hour licence, also closed that year and is due to be turned into an office block.