Plans lodged to convert nightclub into flats

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7th April 2021

By Matt Dixon

Truro could lose one of its nightclubs if plans to convert The Office into flats are given the green light.
The premises, which have been closed for more than a year since the first lockdown began, could become five flats as the legacy of the pandemic begins to bear its teeth.

A design and access statement from BW Planning as part of the proposal to Cornwall Council, said: “These are applications borne out of unhappy circumstances; what was once a thriving part of Truro’s night time economy has been decimated by the social and economic impacts of covid-19.”

Applicant Warwick Royden bought the club in August 2019 and opened on Friday and Saturday nights until 2.30am, employing up to 14 members of staff on a part time basis.

The statement added: “The applicant explains that the main impacts have been lockdown and social distancing measures. Lockdown has made opening the premises unlawful, thus closure was not negotiable.

“At the time of writing the premises remains closed to the public. Social distancing makes running a nightclub – needing many customers in this relatively small venue in order to create a busy, lively atmosphere – financially unviable.”

The statement said Mr Royden cannot re-establish his original business plan “in the foreseeable future”, citing an example in which customers are stood one to two metres apart, away from bars with plastic screens in a noisy environment, making it more difficult for orders to be placed and drinks to be received.

“Some of the customers that might ordinarily come to the venue choose to avoid it because of fears about the transmission of covid-19.

“A reduced number of entry fees and a reduced number of transactions at the bar makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to cover business overheads including staff costs, utility bills and the purchase of beverages.

“A night’s entertainment that does not fulfil customer expectations is detrimental to public relations and advertising. Any future government announcement to temporarily close bars, clubs and similar venues as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of covid-19 is likely to further harm the economic viability of those businesses,” the statement continued.

The proposed development would consist of five one-bedroom flats, with three on the ground floor and two on the first floor.

The statement acknowledged that the permanent closure would result in the loss of a business space in the city, but said Mr Royden could not afford to wait nine months to identify a potential buyer.

The Office is one of two nightclubs in Truro, with Vanilla the only other establishment to hold a late licence until 2.30am.

Cornwall Council’s planning committee has until Thursday, May 13 to make a decision on the application.

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