After four years in operation, Melbourne’s Howler is an absolute favourite venue for local bands and punters alike. With acoustics and atmosphere pretty much second-to-none, playing a show there is a milestone for many of the city’s emerging acts, and it’s a cornerstone of the local area.
Scarily, new plans for an apartment block are putting the Brunswick venue’s future in jeopardy, with The Music reporting that an eight-storey building is in the planning stages, and would no doubt be a lightning rod for noise complaints.
New developments aren’t unusual in the flourishing northern suburbs, but the strange kink in this story is that the plans reportedly identiry Howler not as a music venue, but as a “former wool store”, which could certainly be cause for some serious conflicts if the designers are hoping to ignore the fact that they’re building right next to an established and popular live music venue rather than some abandoned retailer.
Speaking to The Music, venue director Brendan Brogan expressed his concerns about the proposal and the complete lack of consultation when the building was designed.
“We find it strange that, as one of Melbourne’s premier live music venues, the developers did not contact us during the design process,” he says. “Any onsite investigation would have shown that they are proposing bedrooms directly abutting the rear of stage.
“How do they expect to sound attenuate a bedroom that backs on to a stage? Under the Agent of Change law they are responsible to do this sound attenuation.”
The Agent of Change laws Brogan refers to should, theoretically, protect the existing venue from any developments that come afterwards, although the “former wool store” designation remains a concern.
“We need public support and council pressure to make sure that the developers build a design that allows people to live near live music venues without threatening live music’s place in society.”
It’s not too late to express objections or concerns about the planning permit, The Music notes, and your feedback can be submitted here by searching for 8-14 Michael Street.