Petition launched to save Lancaster Music Co-op after council issue eviction notice

A petition has been launched to save Lancaster Music Co-op after the council issued it with an eviction notice.

Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 3:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 3:18 pm
Lancaster Music Co-Op
Lancaster Music Co-Op

The Co-op, which has been providing rehearsal and recording space for musicians in the city for the last 33 years from its base in Lodge Street, now has just six months to leave the building.

The eviction notice was issued by Lancaster City Council, which owns the building, over the weekend of the Lancaster Live music festival.

The decision to issue the notice has been described as a “disaster” by ward councillor Caroline Jackson.

Ian Dicken and David Blackwell in the studio at Lancaster Music Co-op

David Blackwell, who runs the Co-Op alongside Ian Dicken, said that they had been in limbo for years because of the now failed Canal Corridor redevelopment.

Due to the uncertainty over the future of the area, the Co-Op has not been able to apply for funding to make much needed improvements to the building.

Despite this, it has continued to provide non-profit making rehearsal and recording space for thousands of local musicians, creating a music scene in the city that is now nationally renowned.

Any closure of the Musicians Co-Op would have a huge negative effect on the city’s night-time economy, Coun Jackson said.

David Blackwell amd the leaking roof at the Music co-op Lancaster.

David said: “A demolition order was served on our premises around 12 years ago as part of the development plans. During this time, we have been unable to move forward as the city council quashed negotiations for a long term lease and stalled any attempts by us to renovate and improve the building.

“At the time, we had a successful planning application approved to totally revamp the interior of the building to create a new purpose built recording studio, rehearsal rooms and venue.

“But without a long term lease we could not move forward with any of our plans.

“A long term lease would have given us security and more importantly access to much needed funding to improve the building, enhance our facilities and realise our ambitions.

“It has been a very frustrating 16 year waiting game.”

Coun Caroline Jackson said the council’s decision is a “disaster”, and would seriously affect Lancaster’s night time economy.

The Co-op has a “license to occupy the building” and pays a peppercorn rent, and David said he was initially told the Co-op would be accommodated as part of any redevelopment of the site.

However in April 2018, Lancaster City Council severed ties with the developer and in July issued Lancaster Music Co-op with a “huge list of impossible demands and repairs on the building”.

David added: “Although we have been working our way through their list of repairs, we have now been issued with an eviction notice, ironically on the weekend of Lancaster Live music festival!

We must now fight Lancaster City Council to save Lancaster Music Co-op.

“This is a vital resource to Lancaster’s musicians and has an impact far beyond the city it serves. We must fight to save its future!”

Lancaster City Council has yet to issue a statement.

See the full story in this week’s Lancaster Guardian.

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The music co-op has had a whole host of musicians through its doors over the years who have gone on to be part of globally recognised acts such as James, The Prodigy, Maximo Park, British Sea Power, 3 Colours Red, Towers of London, Dr and The Crippens, The Milltown Brothers, The Heartbreaks, The Lovely Eggs and Massive Wagons (whose latest album reached the Top 10 in the UK National Album Charts) alongside up and coming acts who have attracted BBC 6 Music’s support such as Mr Ben and the Bens and 3D Tanx. Many other people who have used the Co-op have gone on to successful careers in the music industry such as Stereolab/Elastica producer Paul Tipler and Sound Designer for The Royal Shakespeare Company, Claire Windsor.