A long-established live music venue fears it will have to shut down if plans for a seven-storey apartment block are approved just yards away.
Rock Café, which opens until 3am two nights a week, has been a mainstay of Huddersfield’s night-time economy for almost 28 years.
Now bar owner Richard Downey fears his venue will be forced out if plans to re-develop two buildings which front New Street are given the go ahead.
S. A. Associates has submitted a planning application to Kirklees Council to convert 61-65 New Street and erect a “split-level seven-storey” extension with a five-storey roof-top tower block creating 31 apartments.
The front of one building houses the new Post Office and Roti Bar while the next door shop unit, at the side of Albert Yard, is empty.
The apartment blocks will be built behind, down Albert Yard, and part of the development backs onto Rock Café and Mr Downey says the two uses are just not compatible.
“My dance floor is two metres from the proposed development,” said Mr Downey. “It’s on the back wall of the premises and we go until 3am. We have a big dance floor, flashing lights, DJs and our top floor is a function room. We open the skylights in summer.
“Our kitchen extraction system is in direct view of this development and blows in that general direction. We serve food until late most evenings.
“People start rocking up at 10.30pm and stay until 3am. We cannot change that business model. It’s either them or us. If this goes ahead you can kiss Rock Café goodbye.”
Rock Café is in the former Huddersfield Examiner building in Ramsden Street and, ironically, is in the so-called Cultural Heart where Kirklees Council wants to encourage new bars and restaurants.
Mr Downey said he was “horrified” when he first learned of the plans last year but said he wasn’t surprised.
“The town has been totally mismanaged over the last 15 years,” he said. “It’s a disgrace.”
In his objection to Kirklees Council, Mr Downey wrote: “We were here first. If this project goes ahead it will certainly lead to restrictions being imposed on our business and, ultimately, our closure.”
Mr Downey said they had invested over £1 million in the building over the lifetime of the business and added: “As a late-night leisure business we employ some 20 full and part-time employees and we believe we are a vital component to the late-night economy in Huddersfield town centre, providing hundreds of thousands in tax revenues, business rates etc.
“We are two years into a new full repairing and insuring lease with a personal guarantee on default.”
A planning report by Huddersfield-based Acumen architects, on behalf of the applicant, said some disused retail/commercial units fronting Victoria Lane would be lost. The premises had last been used as a dental practice and had been empty since 2017.
The report said there was no longer the demand for such units and added: “Huddersfield town centre is saturated with retail units which is reflected by proposals in the Huddersfield Blueprint to remove the units around the existing Piazza area.
“The proposed development provides a mix of one and two-bedroomed houses in a sustainable location. The units are of different sizes, with some suitable for one person and others suitable for two people.
“The proposed development creates 31 units on a previously used site, which is unlikely to come forward for any other type of development. Much of the building has been vacant for many years.”
Public consultation into the plans ended in December.