Councillors rally in support of Milton Keynes music venue

The Stables in Wavendon
The Stables in Wavendon

Councillors are going to try to make developers do something they don’t want to in a bid to defend a much loved music venue against the possibility of noise complaints.

Plans to build 134 homes, retail units, and a convenience store in Ortensia Drive, near The Stables theatre in Wavendon, had already been granted but Thursday’s Development Control Committee was asked to dot the i’s and cross the t’s over design and layout.

Supporters of The Stables turned out in force on Thursday, filling the public gallery and even watching the committee’s deliberations on screens in a public area outside the main Mllton Keynes Council chamber.

The crunch matter was over whether elected councillors could impose a condition to require the developers to agree a legal Deed of Easement with The Stables. It would mean that new residents would have to expect to hear noise from the venue.

Objector Mike LeRoy said none of three noise reports had considered the impact of rhythmic, booming, bass noises, which made planning conditions inadequate.

And Tim Taylor, a noise lawyer, said other music venues are closing because of noise complaints.

“It is not up to the applicant to decide that a deed of easement is not necessary,” he said. “For the committee to conclude that there is no risk of complaints is wrong.

“Save The Stables, it is not too late.”

And Ian Revell, of MK Community Foundation, said: “The Stables must be protected. Do not jeopardise the future of what is a world class institution.”

Developer’s agent John Brindley, speaking on behalf of Abbey Developments, detailed all the steps they had taken to mitigate possible noise, including a 30 metre buffer zone, an acoustic fence, and changes to the layout of houses on the site.

“They have gone above and beyond what they need to,” he said.

And when asked by Cllr Andrew Geary whether the developer would agree to making a Deed of Easement, he replied: “My client is not prepared to go along with a Deed of Easement.”

And the council’s own senior planning officer, Elizabeth Verdegem, warned the committee that she considered that making a Deed of Easement could leave the council open to a legal challenge.

But the committee also heard, from council director Tracy Darke that elected members were still able to decide to impose a condition requiring a Deed of Easement.

Councillors acknowledged the work that Abbey Development had undertaken to protect new residents from possible noise, but felt that they needed to do as much as they could to protect The Stables. They see it as a valuable asset in Milton Keynes.

Cllr Geary said: “A Deed of Easement is challengeable but we must do what is right. If it goes to appeal, I hope Mr Brindley’s clients will consider the matter and not challenge the council.

“And I expect that we will defend it robustly.”

And referring to the issue of a giant warehouse in Blakelands, Cllr Rob Middleton said: “We have our regrets around Blakelands. If we took the wrong decision here, I would regret it for the rest of my life.”

Councillors voted in favour of adding a Deed of Easement into planning conditions as another line of defence for the venue.

Despite the move, council officers confirmed that residents would not lose their legal rights to make statutory noise complaints.