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Ministry of Sound petitioning over development plan

Iconic club claims proposed residential units “could pose a significant threat” to its entertainment licence, writes David Davies

A proposed development incorporating residential units in Elephant & Castle, south London, is the subject of an ongoing discussion between property developer Oakmayne Group and the district’s most famous nightclub, Ministry of Sound (MoS).

Located immediately to the north of the designated Elephant & Castle Regeneration Area, the mixed-use development, Eileen House, would take the form of a 41-storey tower rising to approximately 126m. Designed by Allies & Morrison, Eileen House would comprise 335 residential units, commercial space, retail and parking. The multi-use site has been the subject of a formal planning application, with a date for the Southwark Planning Committee yet to be confirmed.

In a posting on its website that also features a petition, the MoS claims that the construction of the residential units “could pose a significant threat to the club’s entertainment licence”. To lose MoS, it suggests, would be to lose “a vital piece of youth culture in this country”. “Ministry of Sound is not just any nightclub; it’s the most famous nightclub in the world and the heart of a global entertainment business,” commented CEO Lohan Presencer, adding: “We must do everything in our power to save our club and our business.”

Oakmayne, however, disputes a threat to MoS and says that it has proposed a series of “mitigation measures” to enable the club and the residential development to co-exist. In addition to a series of basic layout/design features, including the location of the commercial component on the part of the site closest to MoS to provide a ‘buffer’ between the club and the residential area, the developer cites an enhanced glazing specification and individual mechanical ventilation in each residential unit. Relocation of the taxi pick-up/drop-off point and reconfiguration of the queuing system are among the ‘simple management measures’ also suggested by the developer.

In a statement issued to PSNE, Oakmayne Group chairman Christopher Allen commented: “Oakmayne confirm that they have worked extensively with the Ministry of Sound and Southwark officers to ensure that the scheme and the Ministry of Sound can co-exist harmoniously. Oakmayne have also agreed to spend nearly £400,000 to assist in further sound-proofing the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

“Sadly for Southwark residents the Ministry of Sound will not withdraw their objections so that £20 million of scheme benefits are now in jeopardy. This represents £16 million of affordable housing and £4.5 million of community-related benefits. As this is a major scheme within the Elephant & Castle Regeneration Area we are hopeful that the planning application will be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee shortly.”

The ‘community-related’ benefits cited by Allen with regard to Eileen House include £2.4 million to deliver a new public square adjacent to the site and £625,000 to improve the quality of public transport provision at Elephant & Castle.

As previously reported in the hard copy version of PSNE, Ministry of Sound has lately been the subject of an audio upgrade that saw it complete its conversion to Martin Audio loudspeakers with the installation of the new ASX sub. Q