City centre venue faces closure from victoria gate expansion

October 17, 2017

The Old Red Bus Station is under threat as shopping complex looks to build a bigger car park.

This is a picture of the front of The Old Red Bus Station taken from ground level

Vibrant hub for electronic music enthusiasts may soon be gone for good

The Victoria Gate group wants to expand the car park just behind the historic building, demolishing it in the process. This has caused widespread dismay amongst the Leeds electronic music scene.

Champion Up North, the collective who opened the venue in February 2016, was originally given a five year lease. However, the venue and the surrounding area have been earmarked for the next phase of the ongoing developments.

“We are aware of the potential demolishing of the building, although we choose to take a positive approach to the situation”, says Imogen Smith, a resident club night promoter. “If the building closed tomorrow we have achieved our goal of creating a hub for like-minded people and are proud to have left our mark on the city. However, we will fight this all the way, not just for us but for young people throughout Leeds.”

The venue has hosted some of the finest talent of electronic music, however the real loss will be to the cultural identity of the city. Regular art and food exhibitions offer something unique, particularly to young people who see the site as a hub for creativity and individuality.

A side on photograph to show where The Old Red Bus Station is compared to the current car park.

The mooted plans would see the car park extend to where the venue currently sits

Champion Up North

Despite the setback of losing their flagship space, Champion Up North plan on continuing their work in the city. Events ranging from writing classes at Leeds’ Arts Hotel to craft beer markets at Canal Mills will still be a fixture in the city.

“We see the short-term life of The Old Red Bus Station as an opportunity rather than a limitation”, says Immi Cardy, a representative for Champion Up North. “We don’t have any time to waste, and with the short period we have already been open, I believe we have made a mark on Leeds after creating a truly underground club. We’re going to take this legacy we created and keep transforming Leeds for young people”.

The desire to preserve youth culture and creative spaces is one that’s clearly shared by the group and club night promoters.

Corporations over culture

The move aims to lure in shoppers to stores like John Lewis and the new casino.

“Hammerson is pleased The Old Red Bus Station will bring new life to the building in the interim”, James Hepburn, project manager of Hammerson, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The move is symptomatic of a recent trend that is blighting local music scenes, not just in Leeds but nationally too. The Garage, winner of DJ Mag’s Best Small Club award in 2012, closed in 2013, whilst The Cockpit last opened in 2014. Both clubs were affected by landlord disputes, effectively pricing them out of existence.

A picture, from ground level looking up, of the front of the casino at Victoria Gate shopping centre

The proposed car park would cater for the Victoria Gate casino

Manchester recently saw Sankeys nightclub, a pillar of UK electronica, close. The space is now currently being turned into luxury flats. Recent BBC reports show that the number of nightclubs across London have decreased by 50% over the past five years. 430 music venues dropped to 245 over this period.

Underground ethos

A strong community spirit exists that will challenge the decision. Liam Murray, a frequent visitor of The Old Red Bus Station and occasional guest DJ, vowed to continue to contribute to the scene. “We can’t get too upset about this because then they’ve won. I’ve had some amazing experiences at this venue and we’ll seek another space to make our own, just like The Old Red was.”

By Chris Nicholls and Tom Howard




One thought on “City centre venue faces closure from victoria gate expansion

  1. Amber Eliot

    In the 18 years that I have been a clubber, I have seen the closure of many, many legendary venues in this city in favour of new flats and office space. Easily the most regrettable closure was that of Majestyk. That was a beautiful venue. Even huge, purpose built nightclubs like Evolution are now gone. Leeds’ biggest nightclub is now the privately owned Beaver Works which has gone from strength to strength. Where nightspots bite the dust, Beaver Works is there to pick up the pieces and collect their abandoned clientele who are otherwise left with nowhere to rave. Leeds needs more venues like this – the building owned outright by the management, not under contract to any brewery so free to sell what they want at prices they choose and not under threat from the greed of property developers.


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