COMMENT: We all have to club together

IMAGINE someone moving from a city to the countryside and complaining to the local parish council about the unexpected odour of manure, daily dawn chorus of cockerels and mooing cattle.

Then just imagine the flabbergasted howls of laughter the complaint would be greeted with.

So why is it city dwellers who've recently migrated to the heart of Leeds react with horror to all the sights, sounds and smells that naturally come with urban life?

The problem, of course, is that we're British and Brits are used to two modes of living – rural or suburban. Unfortunately an urban existence just isn't second nature. Not yet anyway.

But if people aren't willing to adapt why did they choose to move to the heart of one the UK's biggest metropolises in the first place? Are they masochists or something?

Did they expect to wake up every Sunday morning to an idyll where kids trundle along pavements on tricycles while mum and dad wash the car and windows?

Because, naturally, city livers are just as likely to be greeted with a scene of carnage from the night before with some poor soul washing urine and vomit off the doorstep.

To be fair, problems with excessive noise, mess and antisocial behaviour aren't a constant feature, nor are they irresolvable. But I'm afraid the grit of city living is always a potential rub.

Recently there's been a couple of cases where residents of new apartment blocks have taken steps to prevent the opening of venues which they see as heightening this rub.

They're perfectly entitled to object. And they're probably justified if, and only if, they can prove said venue is a step too far.

Having a bar or restaurant under your home is one thing, but opening a Hell's Angels cafe on your doorstep might vex you a tad.


But the latest case on Cross York Street beggared belief. There residents of an apartment block called The Iceworks were objecting to plans to redevelop the old Northern Light club.

The new venue, called The Loft, has now been given the go-ahead, thankfully. It will be a space which can be rented out for private functions, so it isn't even a conventional club.

But the neighbours weren't happy. Even though said neighbours moved into the flats (which were actually built by the club's former owner) when Northern Light was already up and running.

They had the choice of any number of apartments across a vast city but they chose to live smack bang next to a busy nightspot – then they tried to have it closed down.

Bizarre. Utterly bizarre. How these people had the audacity to complain is unfathomable.

Presumably they'll now move to apartments on The Calls and demand the River Aire be drained when they discover that ducks and barges have the temerity to sail under their living room windows.

I'm not saying the residents of The Iceworks don't have legitimate concerns because they do. Even if you reside in the heart of somewhere as big as Leeds you shouldn't have to put up with all the extremes of city living, all of the time.

But all the bones of contention can be chewed over and a compromise reached. Simply trying to block plans creates an adversarial situation which means that, one way or another, someone has to lose.

And sadly the loser could be both the lifestyle and facilities of the very people who are objecting. If the owners of apartments and clubs can't work together then, eventually, both will falter.

Rather than be bloody-minded, city livers need to meet developers half way for the good of everyone. I'd always defend anyone's right to object, but it's self-defeating to be so objectionable.

An artist's impression of part of the architect's new plans for Flaxby Park.

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