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MU Concerned Over Proposed Changes to Peckham Music Venue Which Will Impact Accessibility

If approved the redevelopment plans for The Montague Arms in Peckham will see a reduction in floor space and stage access for both disabled musicians and audience members.

Published: 10 June 2022 | 4:50 PM
Small music venue with crowd in silhouette and multi coloured lights coming from the stage.
"What it should be getting from this redevelopment is accessible toilets and an accessible stage". Image credit: Shutterstock.

The redevelopment of the Peckham venue seeks to refurbish the ground floor and to extend the basement where live performances will be held.

Whereas wheelchair users previously had level access from the street, performers and audience members will now need to access a flight of steps to the cellar venue area, with no lift or ramp.

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MU member and performer Fiona Branson said:

“The Montague Arms has been hosting eclectic live performances since the 1960s. Bands such as The Gang of Four, through to comedians such as Mike Reid have performed there, whilst Shane McGowan, Nick Cave and Mark E Smith had a legendary jam there in 1989.

“It's also had a history of running benefit gigs for assorted charities, supporting disabled people and their families (such as AlexTLC), welcoming disabled audiences (the venue being accesible to wheelchair users with level access from the street) and hosting Mad Pride gigs, notably for Holocaust Memorial Day.

“It's a classic historic small music venue - and it's now being re-developed. What it should be getting from this redevelopment is accessible toilets and an accessible stage. It should be getting decent soundproofing and licensing guarantees from the local authority, which demand - and therefore ensure - that it will be retained as an accessible music venue, in the public interest.

“I've performed there myself, as a solo artiste, as a backing singer, as a band member. I've chatted to huge stars outside on the pavement - then watched them perform onstage. It's a grassroots small music venue with a huge heart and a giant sized rock music history, that can't simply be reduced to a street front bar - and a small cellar venue, accessible only to non-disabled audiences and artistes with extremely tiny portable instruments they can get down a tiny flight of stairs.

“Please look at these plans, comment on them, and think how it could be best developed and improved as a small music venue, for the benefit of artistes, audiences and the local community."

Labour Councillor for Lewisham Luke Sorba also commented:

"To use the correct legal language, I personally am predisposed to objecting on the grounds it increases the chance of a loss of amenity.

“Paul and Joan and I continue to favour the revival of the Montague Arms as the important local social space and cultural venue it has been previously. We will be writing to the Planning Department following further discussion.

“But it is even more important that residents send their comments in before the deadline so they can help shape any recommendation by officers or decision by committee.

“By the way it is important to note that no operator has been found by the developer to run the proposed basement venue. This is about building residential units while establishing the "opportunity" to run a bar/music venue downstairs."

Have your say

Any members who might be affected by this are encouraged to make a submission to Lewisham Council on the grounds of a lack of disabled access.

To look at the plans, drawings and to comment on the application, please visit the Lewisham Council planning department page by 27 June.

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