Blow to Cardiff Music Board as key campaigner steps down after flats plan approved
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A key campaigner and podcaster sitting on the Cardiff Music Board has stepped down after controversial plans for flats opposite a music venue were approved.
Dan Minty, of Minty’s Gig Guide to Cardiff, resigned this week from the board of music experts, which formed last year to safeguard the city’s music scene.
Plans for 20 flats were approved on Wednesday, December 16, on Queen Street, opposite pub and music venue the Flute and Tankard. The venue, local politicians and the music board had raised concerns the flats could mean noise complaints and the venue closing.
Mr Minty said he stepped down due to problems with an “inadequate” noise assessment of how much sound from the Flute and Tankard would be heard in the flats; and the lack of a council noise officer present in the planning committee meeting.
In a letter to the chair of the music board, Cardiff council leader Huw Thomas, Mr Minty said: “In light of the recent approval of the application to build flats opposite the Flute and Tankard — despite no initial noise assessment put forward for the application — then an inadequate one that followed with assumption not fact.
“Plus, the fact no noise officer was present to provide or give evidence at the meeting — I believe this application should have been deferred this afternoon, instead — it was approved.
“As a result of this and my intense opposition to internal council planning affairs and the lack of comms between planning and this board, I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you my resignation from my seat on the Cardiff Music Board as I feel remaining past this point would make me a hypocrite.”
Usually during planning committee meetings, experts working for the council are on hand to answer questions from councillors about how plans would affect things like noise pollution, air pollution or traffic congestion. But no noise officer was present on Wednesday.
Councillor Rhys Taylor, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the council, said: “I have long been concerned about the depth of the commitment to live music in Cardiff beyond strategy.
“This is another nail in the coffin for the live music scene. Serious questions need answering on the extent of the commitment to creating a city that we Cardiffians can be proud of.”
Cardiff Music Board was set up last year by the council, with 22 experts from across the music industry, to champion the city’s music scene, promote grassroots music, and help communication across the sector.
The board did object to the plans, the council said, and action against the Flute and Tankard if future residents complained would be “unlikely”, due to the new Agent of Change law brought in by the Welsh Government in 2017.
The Agent of Change law means developers, not venues, are responsible for preventing noise complaints from future residents of flats or houses built near existing venues.
A council spokesperson said: “We were sorry to hear Daniel Minty decided to step down from the music board and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his contribution.
“The music board did raise objections to the planning application, specifically around how the Flute and Tankard’s future as a venue might be affected. This was discussed at the music board meeting on October 19, where it was agreed an objection would be submitted.”
The spokesperson said the music board objections led to rules protecting the venue: the developer must show the flats are soundproofed, and get a certificate of compliance from an approved acoustic assessor.
They added: “Once completed and occupied, should a high standard of soundproofing not be achieved, it’s unlikely Shared Regulatory Services would take enforcement action on existing premises in the vicinity under the statutory nuisance provisions.
“Given all this, it’s difficult to see how this conversion might threaten the future of the Flute and Tankard.”
The controversy echoes the plans in 2017 to build seven-storeys of flats and a hotel on Womanby Street, near several music venues like Clwb Ifor Bach, the Full Moon and Fuel.
The Save the Womanby Street campaign fought against the plans, which were then dropped. The campaign prompted the new Agent of Change law and the creation of Cardiff Music Board.