A POPULAR musician has joined thousands of campaigners hoping to save a much-loved city music venue from demolition.
Frank Turner is urging his followers to sign a petition to safeguard the White Rabbit in Bretonside, which he describes as the “lifeblood” of Plymouth’s live music scene.
The adjoining coach station is set to be knocked down and replaced with a £42million cinema and restaurant complex as part of plans to transform the city centre.
The online petition, addressed to council leader Tudor Evans, had attracted more than 2,500 signatures.
Daniel James, owner of the White Rabbit, said that the first he knew of the proposal was when he read The Herald.
“I have been there for 10 years and the White Rabbit was a labour of love in response to peoples disappointment with the local music scene.
“A lot of time I’ve been living on the breadline.”
Cllr Mark Lowry, the city’s Cabinet member for finance, said the council had been in touch with all the tenants affected by the development.
“They are on short-term leases with a development clause.
“But we’ll be making sure we give them all the support necessary and will work with them to find suitable alternative premises.”
Daniel said he had not heard from the council, but thought that could be due to the fact that his working day starts at 5pm.
He said: “I’m not opposed to the development.
“I’d be ecstatic if they could find me another suitable venue of that size in town, not too far from the university campus, that isn’t going to affect residential premises.”
He said he needed to know soon what was going to happen because “it has already spooked a lot of my promoters”.
Frank Turner told The Herald: “I’ve played the White Rabbit a bunch of times on my travels – it’s the staple underground venue in the city of Plymouth, a fact confirmed by people I know in town. The shows I’ve had there have always been great – a good atmosphere, well run, a good crowd, the right intentions. Small venues are crucial to keeping underground and independent music scenes thriving, they are the lifeblood of any scene and a training ground for many, many bands who go on to bigger things – be it Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, or even me. It deserves the support of the live music community and the people of Plymouth.”
Louise Ellar, aged 24, who created the petition, said: “The White Rabbit is a very important place for music enthusiasts, not only in Plymouth but also its surrounding areas. It’s a place for everyone to come together and support their favourite bands and make new friends. The intimacy of the venue allows people to do this very well. Its uniqueness is loved by many, and not just by the fans. Many bands that have played here have commented on what a special venue it is, and how they can’t wait to come back on a future tour.”
She added: “It may just be another building to some, but to so many it is a second home, a place where they can have the best time and forget everything in their daily lives. Without The White Rabbit, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy watching our favourite bands play locally.”
Music fan Matt Venner, aged 26, said: “When I first found out about the plans I was deeply upset by it. White Rabbit is not just a place to see bands play, it’s also a place where people with similar tastes in music and bands are be able to meet and have a laugh with each other. I have met some wonderful people and bands at the White Rabbit If the plans were to go ahead it would cause so much hurt for the music scene.”
Sean Pye, aged 17, from Torquay, added: “If White Rabbit goes, Devon’s music scene will slowly die out. But Rabbit will not go without a fight.”
Find the petition by clicking here.