Is Cityblock’s £400k soundproofing work wasted as Lancaster’s Sugarhouse nightclub now faces closure?

The boss of a Lancaster student housing firm who spent £400,000 on soundproofing his new development says he is “astonished” by plans to close a city nightclub and replace it with student flats.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 11:42 am
The back of The Gillows building, which faces The Sugarhouse nightclub

Lancaster University Student Union (LUSU) announced last week that it was negotiating the sale of The Sugarhouse nightclub to a developer, which would result in the closure of the club and the development of student accommodation.

But Trevor Bargh, CEO of Cityblock, which is close to completing the conversion of the neighbouring Gillows building into student accommodation, said that had the plans to close the nightclub been known from the start, the Gillows building could have become a hotel and residential quarter.

The Sugarhouse, which has been a nightclub for more than 30 years, is located right at the centre of two new large scale student developments.

The Sugarhouse nightclub, with the St Leonard's House development behind it

The Gillows building in North Road, and St Leonard’s House, in St Leonard’s Gate, are both nearing completion.

In 2016, the developments sparked complaints from LUSU, and Lancaster University students in general, that noise from The Sugarhouse could lead to unnecessary restrictions being placed on it and that it could result in the nightclub being forced to close down.

Lancaster City Council granted permission for the Gillows development in December 2016, despite concerns raised by LUSU that The Sugarhouse “now faces being surrounded by residential developments that have been approved on the basis of incomplete acoustic analysis”.

LUSU said that that the granting of permission would pave the way for Lancaster City Council’s planned student accommodation in St Leonard’s Gate.

Cityblock spent £400,000 on soundproofing measures on the Gillows building to mitigate potential noise issues.

Trevor Bargh, CEO of CityBlock, said this week: “As we near completion of Gillows and prepare for our first students to move in, we’re astonished that LUSU have chosen to potentially close down the Sugarhouse and are looking to redevelop it for student accommodation.

“LUSU have challenged us nearly every step of the way on the Gillows development.

“Had these plans been known from the start, this whole site could have been planned differently.

“Indeed we’d originally envisioned Gillows as a hotel and residential quarter but were dissuaded from pursuing this venture because of the proximity of the student nightclub.

“We’ve spent over £400,000 soundproofing Gillows (affecting the development timetable) to ensure there would be no issues with noise interference and that both our student accommodation and the nearby nightclub – a venue we’ve always been fully supportive of – could happily coexist.”

A LUSU spokesperson said: “We understand that students, past and present, have become very attached to The Sugarhouse, and will be concerned at the decision to sell it, but we as a Union have to consider the interests of the whole student body, not just now, but in years to come.

“We will now work to identify other social opportunities for students, in Lancaster and on campus.

“We will invest proceeds from the sale in a range of facilities and services that would be of lasting benefit to the student body as a whole.

“There are a small number of staff and student staff who might be impacted by any sale.

“Staff will be consulted about the developments and should a sale go ahead the Students’ Union would work to support all staff to find alternative roles.”