No Pain No Gain

The longest game of Monopoly in the World

Let me tell you all about finding a new home.

It’s not easy.

Every to let sign on a building doesn’t really mean that its to let.

Estate Agents and Landlords don’t really want to play nice.

It’s a snakepit.

Deceptions are the norm.

I could go on , and I will.

We really thought we had it cracked first time out of the traps, way back in December last year we were offered a space on Warwick Street on the Heaton/Shieldfield border couple of hundred yards from Star and Shadow. Like excited puppies we were running around wagging our tails and barking about our ‘new home’ on social media.

There was a lot of work to be done, after all it was only a space, it needed soundproofing, toilets, green room, store room, bar installed, lighting, AC, front entrance built, fire escapes built, Fire Detection, CCTV, planning permission and Premises Licence. So not much commitment there then.

Unperturbed we cracked on as we were led to believe by the Landlord that all was good and we would be able to sign on the dotted line in January, which would give us plenty time to construct the new venue to open when Ford St Little Buildings was forced to close.

We set wheels in motion at the council completing all the required forms to get the permissions required while we waited for the green light from the council.

Unbelievably we were made aware of objections to our proposed venue by the Star and Shadow, and a couple of local residents ( one set of residents stated that our customers would be fighting with the Muslims from the Shisha lounge at every given opportunity, exact words!)

We met with the Star to discuss their concerns but after going round in circles they would not withdraw their objections, not gonna discuss their reasons here but although they said they would welcome another venue in the vicinity, Could they be telling fibs? If the objection was not withdrawn we were unlikely to get a licence without going to appeal which is a huge expense and not a guarantee.

As it turned out some months later, August to be exact, we had put our licence application on hold by then, that our prospective Landlord revealed that all was not well at their end as they had a Landlord who also had a Landlord and said Landlord was demanding a ‘licence fee’ of £10k per year payable 5 years in front. £50K was not ligging about in our bank account so we had to walk away wasting a good 8 months in our hunt for a new venue. There were lots of other stuff happened during the Warwick street escapade, which cannot be put into print for fear of litigation!!

Gutted, money wasted, plans up in smoke we adopted a never say die attitude.

A further 6 properties over the next couple of months were viewed some of them absolutely ideal, one in particular was amazing but too far out of our reach, another was great, but on learning of our business the Landlord asked our maybe to be neighbours if we would be welcome and fit in with the current set up ……….and they did not want us, at least 2 other places we were used by prospective Landlords as leverage on previously interested parties to up their game and sign the lease that they were delaying in completing.

Another was fantastic, it had a great outdoor space for the summer, but upon due diligence we found that it sat on top of the ‘Cully’ which was the main sewerage receptor for the east end of Newcastle and it gave off a truly offensive pong when it warmed up, this of course attracted rats, big rats, and it was also freezing in the winter.

We were helped by the Ouseburn Trust and had several meetings with them one of which was attended by the Tourism and Cultural Director of Newcastle City Council who said Newcastle needed us and he would help find us a new gig. No that didn’t happen with Council Bloke, but fair play to Ouseburn Trust, they bent over backwards. There literally is no where on the Ouseburn available.

Ahh but isn’t there a great big Bike shed thing on Lime Street, and a couple of old warehouses, Euromart, I hear you say? Yep we contacted to owners to see if we could short term let as we knew they had plans to demolish and build a shipping container effort in its place. Got a very nice letter back saying that they were well aware of us, they admired what we did, and they would help if they could but they were due to demolish at the end of the summer (gone)

So another option was to build a container venue ourselves, priced all the units, drew the scheme out, which would have a 180 cap, spent loads of sleepless nights thinking about it, perfecting it, loving my new idea. Could I get any land to put it on, hell no. Every patch of land in the North East has someone’s name on it, particularly in the Ouseburn where people are sitting on land and buildings till they can sell on at a higher price to someone who will sit on it and sell it on to someone at a higher price ad infinitum. I’m a lot of years old and having just twigged that this is happening and apparently acceptable I am pretty disgusted.

So we found an amazing place, ticked every box and some, but not only was the Landlord playing games the Police would not consent to a licence, their take on it was that they did not want any more people in the area as they could not cope with the ones they have already, why is that my problem?

Lets find an old pub, after all one pub in the country is closing down every 5 minutes. Not in Newcastle, hens teeth are easier to find. Lets find a closed down shop, loads of them, most have people living upstairs and seem to object to people playing music and enjoying themselves.

Consideration to a multitude of factors has to be taken when trying to find a new place. Noise they say, well music isn’t noise. Anti social behaviour, well we lived 5m away from residents on Ford St and had 1 complaint about broken glass, which I removed in front of the complainant, and one irate woman who complained via Facebook who was firmly put in her place by a well written response.

So as I type we have 2 possibilities, both tied up in council red tape, its like there is no urgency, willingness or empathy by council employees, one actually replied to one of my queries by saying ‘ we do not offer free advice, pay the money or we cant help’ it was a simple question but maybe the person at the council was under a bit pressure, or 20 mins away from a fag break and was gasping, I don’t know but surely as we are trying create a business, bring money into the economy, be an important part of Newcastle , as stated by, yep the Council guy, cultural and tourism, surely an answer to a simple question would have been easy to give.

Saw a Tweet the other day saying wouldn’t it be great if we had a small venue in Newcastle, surely its not too hard to do.

Well crack on.

We are close, and its only down to the Council to grant us Permission and a Licence.