The announcement at the Watford Borough Council planning committee to refuse the planning application, which would see the closure of Hertfordshire’s only town-based nightclub, Pryzm, was welcomed by MP Dean Russell.
Watford Council’s planning committee met this week to discuss the planning application to demolish the 5 Room Super Pryzm Nightclub Site in Watford’s town centre.
The site was due to have 146 homes constructed on the site and would see businesses such as Pryzm being forced to leave. The committee refused the application on several grounds, including poor accommodation quality, lack of amenity space and a lack of trees and biodiversity.
Mr Russell has repeatedly raised concerns that the closure of Watford’s nightclub could damage Watfords night-time economy. Recently, Dean handed in a petition to Parliament to urge all involved to find a solution to save the nightclub and raised awareness of local concerns by holding a Parliamentary debate to raise the importance of nightclubs to jobs and livelihoods. Thousands of people visit the nightclub every week, and this brings in considerable revenue to the area along with 100 jobs that would be lost with closure. Mr Russell recently highlighted in his Parliamentary debate, that if Pryzm ceased to exist, we could see a huge knock-on effect to other local businesses, and also to taxi drivers who rely on this business as a sizeable part of their weekly income.
Mr Russell has previously written to all interested parties requesting a meeting and following this announcement he urges all involved to meet to discuss the future of the site.
Councillors were strongly advised not to defer the application by the lead officer supporting the committee.
Dean said, ‘I welcome the planning committee’s rejection of this application. The reasons for refusal are strong, and I hope that all involved can come together to find a way to keep Pryzm open, and allow more than 100 employees to retain their jobs. Pryzm is a thriving local business which is well supported by local residents and is part of an important night-time economy.
‘I will continue supporting local residents, businesses and the team at Pryzm to raise awareness of the risk to Watford’s night-time economy if closure is pursued with further applications.
‘I want to thank the Pryzm Manager, David Vickery and his team for their campaign to ensure the planning committee knew the strength of feeling from the community’.
Peter Marks, Chairman of REKOM UK stated after the meeting, ‘All I can say is that we do not see this as a victory as yet. Whilst the planners have rejected this scheme, should the applicant decide to ‘right all the wrongs’ that the planners are standing their ground on then the situation may be different.
However, it is our contention that the committee have missed an important matter under current planning guidelines and indeed the Watford local guidelines and that is that they should take into account that Pryzm can be considered a cultural venue that would need to be relocated for the scheme to go ahead. The committee suggested it could, but with 2,700 capacity there are no suitable buildings in the right location. Therefore it cannot be relocated and we believe they have the right to reject the application on these grounds alone should they wish to.
Should there be another application this important technicality will be explored fully. It is there to protect such venues up and down the country and has been successfully applied many times. Without such guidance and protection we would lose all of our venues eventually to more profitable residential developments.’