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The Deadly Nightingale: Birmingham’s Gay Nightclub Slays Another Apartment Scheme


A second plan for apartments at Kent Street in the vicinity of Birmingham’s venerable gay nightclub, the Nightingale, is on the brink of rejection. Birmingham City Council said it is necessary to protect the vitality of the Gay Village.

The proposals from Mayfair-based London Development Group for 133 apartments on the corner of Kent Street and Gooch Street North is recommended for refusal by council planning officials.

It follows the rejection on plans for 116 apartments on a nearby site at 16 Kent Street. That application by Gooch Estates was rejected in March.

As Bisnow reported the apartment scheme, which was to have sealed windows to keep noise levels down, was rejected because there was “inadequate mitigation proposed within the development against noise from the Nightingale; absence of an agreement to secure noise mitigation measures at the Nightingale which could result in complaints against the Nightingale; and absence of an agreement to secure affordable housing”. 

This time, dealing with an application for a neighbouring site, Birmingham planners criticised the mix of dwellings, saying it would exacerbate the oversupply of one-beds, but otherwise found the plans generally acceptable. Except when it came to noise from the Nightingale.

The club, open seven days a week until between 4am and 6.30am, is a Birmingham institution, a report to councillors says.

Evidence submitted by the developers suggested standard thermal double glazing would be adequate to mitigate against traffic noise for habitable rooms, but the glazing was not judged adequate for entertainment noise. And neither the council, nor the developers’ own consultants, thought sealed windows were a solution because it meant no fresh air. Even so, they proposed sealing windows in 20 apartments, including fully sealing them in 14.

The council disagreed, saying if windows were to be sealed they would need sealing in 71 apartments, slightly more than half the total development, and said that since they had no better evidence they would assume the worst case. But it didn’t like sealed windows anyway.

“The applicant has not indicated a willingness to enter into an agent of change agreement with the Nightingale and the design is based around apartments off a central corridor so providing dual aspects would require a fundamental re-design. Consequently, in this case sealed windows is put forward as the only realistic option to protect both residents and the Nightingale,” a report to councillors said.

The report concluded the development should be rejected because “in the absence of the sealed windows, the development is likely to result in complaints against the Nightingale which may compromise its operation and adversely impact on the viability of the Gay Village more generally”.