On April 29, Bristol City Council met virtually over Zoom, where the decision was made to turn the connecting Coroner’s Court, Stokes Croft Beer garden and Lakota nightclub into housing and office space. Ten committee members voted on this, six voting ‘for’ the plans to go ahead, three voting ‘against’, with one abstention. Despite the clear win in favour of proceeding with the plans, the decision was met with heavy objection.
Controversy surrounding this decision existed before the Council got together online to discuss this, and it was brought to attention that a petition garnering over 8,000 signatures had been overlooked. Supposedly, the petition never reached the local planning authority, and amidst all of the Covid-19 disruption, it was already too late to give the it a second glance.
Speaking at the meeting, Labour councillor Harriet Bradley said: “I was very astonished to find that there is a petition of 8k signatures protesting against the proposal. This doesn’t seem right that we should listen to this proposal before this has been democratically discussed at full council.”
Whilst it is argued that talks to revitalise the area surrounding the nightclub had been underway for some time, there appears to be a general lack of remorse for the cultural significance Lakota has on the city. This was touched on briefly by the three councillors who voted for the club to remain, but when questions were raised regarding the knock-on effects for youth culture, they were met with apathy from those who voted for the planning to go ahead.
Bristol’s night-time economy is one of its most valuable assets, the music scene attracts thousands of students every academic year. Whilst this was addressed in the Zoom meeting, it was quickly overlooked when weighed up against the forthcoming arrangements.
Yilmaz Moore, DJ/Producer said “I think Lakota being shut down could really hit the rave scene hard. For many, many students and (from my knowledge) the majority of DnB heads, Lakota is their favourite venue. The venue also offers so many opportunities for new DJs and the ‘Street team’ is a really creative and welcoming way to encourage reps, which pushes aspiring DJs by giving them opportunities to play out”.
The Burgess family, who own the nightclub, had already come to the decision that they no longer wish to run the club. In a statement, they expressed plans to explore new avenues. Whilst this is the owner’s decision, and therefore out of the hands of the public, for many members of the community this is a huge blow.
Lakota has been an internationally renowned venue since the ‘80s, attracting some of the biggest labels in the UK scene and provides up-and-coming DJs with a platform on which they can display their talents.
The slow burn of gentrification seems almost inevitable in the city’s most culturally vibrant areas, but there is hope. The Burgess family has confirmed that Lakota is set to have a few more years of life in it, which may be of some comfort to its many dedicated fans. Hopefully, after reading this article, the next time you step foot in Lakota you will embrace spending half your student loan on two cans of Red Stripe. The fact it’s warm by the time you get to the bottom is the best part anyway.