Promoters in the Highlands and Islands have told LIVE UK of their concerns for the future of the 1,000-capacity Ironworks in Inverness, which may be demolished to make way for a 162-bedroom hotel.
London-based developer Bricks Capital has submitted a proposal of application notice (PAN) to build a Courtyard by Marriott-branded hotel, with a retail unit on the ground floor.
Under its proposals, the hotel will be sited on vacant land near to the venue, but will also front on to the street, meaning the Ironworks, which has been open for more than 11 years, will have to find new premises.
Several online petitions have been started by concerned music fans with one, hosted on change.org, attracting more than 3,000 signatures as LIVE UK went to print.
One comment on the site states: “There is nowhere else in Inverness that offers the same capacity, atmosphere, variety, and overall experience that the Ironworks does.”
According to Robert Hicks of Ullapool-based promoter Beyond Presents, which regularly hosts shows at the venue, the demise of the Ironworks would be a “big loss to the area and a big loss to the music industry in the Highlands”.
“We’ve been desperate for the Highlands to have its own venue for years, which it has in the Ironworks, so it’s a crying shame that it’s on the cards that it could be going or could be moving,” he said.
Hicks said his greatest concern was that Inverness would be left without a dedicated music venue, with the Ironworks currently hosting acts such as Lewis Capaldi, Primal Scream, Ocean Colour Scene and Edwyn Collins.
Les Kidger of Inverness-based national promoter LCC Live tells LIVE UK the city even needs a larger venue to accommodate demand.
“It’s important that the live music scene in Inverness has a music venue,” he says, “the city can’t afford to lose the ironworks.”
According to local press reports, the venue’s leaseholder has signed an agreement with the building’s owner accepting notice to vacate if, and when, the hotel project receives planning consent.
LIVE UK understands the building is owned by Aviemore-based property company Upland Developments.
Ironworks owner Caroline Campbell confirms that she met with key business and political figures last month to discuss the search for a new venue, saying, the meeting was a “positive discussion about the future of Ironworks and the search for a new venue”.
“The petition that the public have contributed comments to was discussed, taking on board how important the venue is to the people of Inverness and music lovers across the wider Highlands and Islands,” she tells LIVE UK.
“It is business as usual for us and details will be released as soon as we know where our new space will be.”
A spokesman for Highlands Council confirmed the planning process was ongoing.
“Whilst a proposal of application notice was submitted to the Council on 29 July 2019, that would have enabled the planning application to be lodged anytime after 15 October 2019. To date no application has been forthcoming and it is entirely for the prospective applicant to determine when, or indeed if, an application will be submitted.”
Artistes playing the venue include Primal Scream, Hayseen Dixie and Elephant Sessions.