Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Sydenham

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BelindaLester
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Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Sydenham

Post by BelindaLester » 11 Mar 2014 19:23

Hello -

I am very excited about a new project that Louise Brooks and I are partnering on – a review of the Zanzibar business model. We’re working with John Wright, the owner.

Our work will evolve over the next weeks/months – as we research, consult and of course take into account the licensing discussions – but I wanted to share our current objectives:
- To bring the venue back into use – by that we mean making best use of it throughout the week, in the day and evenings
- Removing the current antisocial elements that have been so distressing for local residents
- Build an exciting programme of activities and events that attract local people – and promotes local talent
- Build a strong business that benefits from local support, and in turn contributes to the local economy

Anyone who has met Louise or me knows how passionate we are about Sydenham – Louise has lived in the area her whole life, and I’ve been here since 2006. Louise was at the forefront of the SEE3 pop-up shops work, bringing life back to under-used commercial spaces in Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham. Some of you may have attended the various supperclubs and street food events I’ve organised, featuring local traders – with a longer term aim of building a strong local night-time economy.

We – and John - want to develop a venue that people are excited about, and willing to spend their time and money to support. Discussion about the potential for the space in threads on this forum are encouraging; showing support for things like a cinema, theatre, function space, bar, very well managed club nights, arts centre and activities for children.

Of course, there are also concerns about the current negatives – noise, traffic & parking, unwanted food trading, and associated sleepless nights. This can’t continue – and all will be discussed in detail at the Licensing Committee meeting on the 19th of this month.

Our aim – working with partners, and with input from locals – is to build a diverse programme of activities and events that we will all be proud of. For us, the ideal is maintaining the venue license, but removing the activities which lead to the unacceptable behaviour. John has already revised his future bookings and cancelled a series of events.

To help us build the programme that the venue and Sydenham deserves, we'd like your views. We'll start a more formal consultation process in the near future, but comments are very welcome now, and feel free to contact either of us directly if you'd like to chat in more detail

We'll keep you regularly updated - and we hope to see you all at the meeting on the 19th. It's important to show support for the potential of this venue

Thanks
Belinda (and Louise)

leenewham
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by leenewham » 11 Mar 2014 20:21

Very exciting. It's an amazing space. I'm in (as you know!)

corvid
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by corvid » 11 Mar 2014 20:34

I for one would love to see more diverse events coming to the area, and I've heard Zanzibar is a great space (yet to fully explore it though). So, in echoing Lee, I'm in too!

The SEE events last summer had a really nice feel to them, so hopefully the community would be open to the idea of these kinds of events, and it's clear you and Louise have a proven background in turning words into action and making it happen.

I suppose it has yet to be seen what the outcome of the hearing will be, and I can't deny that I would like to see an end to the current chaos and disruption that plagues us when the club is on... but that's not to say that a more restrained licence wouldn't work. It's just a shame this approach didn't start earlier than this, with the licencing hearing so close. So much resentment has built up for so long I suspect residents will be suspicious that this is just a bit of a desperation tactic from John.

However, if the club keeps it's licence, I would be happy to support this initiative, and for the record, if the place was to become a new, positive space, I would not be in favour of the licence being revoked, just reduced so the 5am closing time is a thing of the past.

BelindaLester
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by BelindaLester » 11 Mar 2014 21:14

Thanks for your comments - and your support for our approach!

I completely understand any cynicism (and frustration, fatigue) - however, Louise and I feel like we started this with our events last Summer; John's been very receptive and generous with the space, for us and others like the Sydenham Arts Festival team. Family life, work commitments etc means that we haven't been able to re-focus on this until now. The meeting on the 19th is both awkward timing, and a really great opportunity to mobilise, address concerns, and make things happen. Louise and I are very committed - to maximising the potential of this venue, and to other local projects that we want to work on throughout the year. This is our community :)

G-Man
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by G-Man » 12 Mar 2014 12:54

This sounds really positive. I think it's a fantastic space and could be so much more than it is. Unfortunately I have work commitments on the 19th so can't make the meeting, which is a shame. Good luck with it though.

Personally, I'd like to see a more relaxed bar in the venue, serving good food and craft ales - I guess that would take time though because of refurb work that would be needed. It would be great to see it used as a music venue/theatre and arts space though. I realise this will take time and am more than happy to help where I can.

Exciting stuff.

G-Man

michael
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by michael » 12 Mar 2014 14:49

BelindaLester wrote:For us, the ideal is maintaining the venue license, but removing the activities which lead to the unacceptable behaviour. John has already revised his future bookings and cancelled a series of events.
Does this mean that all future events that go on until 5am have been cancelled? Are there any future events currently planned that go on later than 2am? Will the owners be voluntarily asking for a licensing restriction to 2am or earlier, or do they believe that 5am closure is not really a problem?

I've heard of other 11th hour conversions to responsible management previously (from other businesses) that rarely last very long, and I think that local residents impacted deserve clear assurances if the license is to be renewed by councillors. It will be a long time before another chance comes along.

Eagle
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by Eagle » 12 Mar 2014 15:16

Michael

I would have thought 2am far too late. Will be massive disturbance in an urban area.

G-Man
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by G-Man » 12 Mar 2014 22:31

michael wrote:
I've heard of other 11th hour conversions to responsible management previously (from other businesses) that rarely last very long, and I think that local residents impacted deserve clear assurances if the license is to be renewed by councillors. It will be a long time before another chance comes along.
I know both Belinda and Louise will have Sydenham at its heart. And I know this is something they have been talking to the owner about for sometime. It is not the owner or them trying to do something at the 11th hour to save a license.

Also, I think a late license is fine if the anti-social behaviour is challenged. Maybe not all the time and maybe not until 5 am but we must remember we do live in a city and in the year 2014. And that not all punters in late night establishments are anti-social in their behaviour. It all depends who a being targeted and how the events are managed.

G-man

BelindaLester
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by BelindaLester » 13 Mar 2014 07:51

Hi

Maintaining a licence allows us flexibility to develop the best programme. I’m only interested in delivering events (either directly or with great partners) that are extremely well managed and make best use of the space throughout the week. Any event, no matter what end time, should target a good crowd and be managed to ensure people leave calmly and quietly.

Our focus is planning for the future, subsequent to the meeting on the 19th. Of course, Louise and I will work with any and all new licensing conditions, but we have been working with John/Zanzibar since last summer, and this is a continuation of that work. There is such an exciting opportunity to develop this space into a long-term community asset.

wen
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by wen » 13 Mar 2014 11:37

This sounds great, there's so much potential for how the place could be developed to both profit the owner and also serve the community! Will definitely keep an eye on this.

In terms of the license review, the recommendation from the paperwork available for the meeting is to reduce the operating hours Thursday to Saturday until 2am, Sunday to Wednesday until midnight, with licensable activities ending 30 minutes before terminal hour, with various conditions attached. It’s not asking to revoke the license and is a reasonable request for change, given the amount of anti social activities coming from the place - the 5am closing time is just baffling given that it’s a residential area! Given that this has been going on since the last license review in 2010 with little to no improvements, I can't blame fed up residents asking for the license to be revoked.

A 2am closing time for end of the week would still give plenty of scope for making use of the place. Plenty of places have a 2am curfew and still manage to thrive (clubs, pub/bar, cinema, music venue, etc) and I don’t see why Zanzibar can’t do the same.

gillyjp
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by gillyjp » 14 Mar 2014 00:04

BelindaLester wrote:Hi

Maintaining a licence allows us flexibility to develop the best programme. I’m only interested in delivering events (either directly or with great partners) that are extremely well managed and make best use of the space throughout the week. Any event, no matter what end time, should target a good crowd and be managed to ensure people leave calmly and quietly.

Our focus is planning for the future, subsequent to the meeting on the 19th. Of course, Louise and I will work with any and all new licensing conditions, but we have been working with John/Zanzibar since last summer, and this is a continuation of that work. There is such an exciting opportunity to develop this space into a long-term community asset.
Well I am one of the many near residents continually being woken up when this place kicks out at 5-6am on a weekend night and many nights over the Christmas/New Year just gone - so much so that we could not have our grandchildren stay over as they get frightened when they are woken up with all the appalling noise and shouting.

All I can say is that if you have been, as you say 'working with John/Zanzibar since last summer', then you haven't been very effective in understanding the plight and suffering of the local residents and I don't hold out much hope that, even with all the enthusiasm you claim for the future of this place, the interests and well being of the local residents will be a no. 1 priority, especially over making money for the proprietor. If you had any real concerns you would agree, without question that a license to stay open until 5.00am is not acceptable to normal, hard working people when it interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of their homes in the manner that it does.

Its time that common sense prevails and the issues this place continues to generate, weekend after weekend for local residents most affected by this anti social behaviour, are listened to, heard, and taken seriously.

sn4fu
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by sn4fu » 14 Mar 2014 10:32

I too live within hailing distance of the club, indeed I have lived here for 32years and have never known anything like the disturbance, mess and outlandish behaviour that has emanated from this space over the last few years and really do not want to live thru another god knows how many years of that.

I am with Gillyjp here, a very appealing idea to have the space as a benefit to the community and have no desire to see the place go empty. However John must make an absolute fortune selling alcohol all night and I can't see the same sort of profit margin per hour from any sensible community project.

Like I said nice idea, but suspect this is 50% a naive well meaning proposition and 50% a distraction to divert the license application . . .

If we are lucky we will see the end of the 5am rubbish and even get some cool community projects going, fingers crossed!!!

Annie.
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by Annie. » 14 Mar 2014 12:49

If John couldn't fix it in the last 3? Years I don't hold out any hope that he can do so now.
His excuse "I was going to do that tomorrow" in the police report shows what he really will do.--- nothing.

louisecbrooks
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by louisecbrooks » 14 Mar 2014 12:58

sn4fu I’d like to emphasise the difference between a community project and a business proposition targeting the local community as prospective patrons. Belinda and are both professional consultants who are passionate about and invested in our local community. We are confident that running events that appeal to residents and being profitable are not mutually exclusive.

We completely understand your anger about how the use of the space has impacted on your life, and your cynicism about the likelihood of change. Belinda and I are both local residents, and I am a parent to two small children.  I live a bit further away from the club than you both do so I thankfully haven't been too greatly affected by the club's activities.  If I had been however I would in all likelihood be responding in exactly the same way you are. 

When we say that we have been working with John since last summer we mean that we ran a series of mid week events in August targeted at the local community in response to feedback at Jill, the SEE3 community hub, that there was a lack of night-time activity in Sydenham. The events attracted a wide range of local residents who had never been in the space before and we received a lot of positive feedback about the potential of the space.

We also introduced John to the organisers of the Sydenham Arts Festival who ran a couple of events there and are intending to run a series of events this year. As a result the theatre production Bouncers was staged at the venue in November also.

It was during this period that we started talking to John about the changes he could make to his business to primarily attract local residents.

We have been speaking to a number of local residents about plans for the space and will continue talking to local residents as we develop the programming. We’d be really happy to chat to either of you if you’d like to meet up.

We have been consistent in saying that the current situation cannot continue, and we maintain that. Belinda and I are committed to delivering programming targeted primarily at the community. We are also committed to managing the space so that it doesn't impact negatively on the lives of local residents.

Tadpole
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by Tadpole » 14 Mar 2014 22:13

This cold be an interesting development which I think is great but not if I'm still going to be woken up between 2am and 5.30am then waiting for my alarm clock going off at 6.30am to go to work.
Didn't have this problem when it was twilights.
I'd be more interested if they offered to close at midnight, or even 1am and had staff outside to encourage people to go home immediately and quietly.

gillyjp
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by gillyjp » 14 Mar 2014 22:53

As I said in my previous post which was put on this thread and mysteriously disappeared after 3 minutes, in my humble opinion this is a cunning plan by the Zanzibar management who have managed to hoodwink two seemingly well meaning but gullible women in the shape of Belinda and Louise who, by their own admission, are not just two local women interested in the community but (and I quote) two ‘professional consultants’. It is my experience that ‘professional consultants’ at the end of the day want paying especially when they start talking about 'looking at the business model' and spouting jargon like that.

If and when the license is rubber stamped then how soon will all that waffle about being interested in the community, etc be forgotten and lost in the relentless and continuing appetite for the proprietor to make a profit? Once they have secured the much needed new license they will not give a hoot about gaining local confidence and interest. With a brand new shiny license, the premises will be a viable and lucrative proposition to be sold on. There will be no thought then of local residents having to put up with the noise and appalling behaviour emanating from his place. There was never any genuine concerns about that from the Zanzibar Management otherwise robust procedures would have been put in place years ago to stop this happening.

It beggars belief that on a Saturday night if a resident attempts to access Spring Hill to return to their home they have to literally ask permission from a ‘car park attendant’ in a high vis jacket to pull the orange barrier back from the top of the road so that they can drive into their road. What a farce.

For goodness sake, the proprietor of the Zanzibar club is a businessman whose interests are restricted to making a profit. I have no problem with that but at least be honest about it. Don’t hide behind the inference that there is concern for the effect that this place has on the local residents. This has gone on too long and nothing has ever been done because they could not care less.

It’s high time that the concerns of those most affected by this place, i.e those living in the immediate vicinity are listened to and taken seriously. It is also high time some of those more naïve contributors to this site woke up and smelt the coffee. We were proved right about the Greyhound and we stand to be proved right about this club.

gillyjp
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by gillyjp » 14 Mar 2014 23:20

Tadpole wrote:This cold be an interesting development which I think is great but not if I'm still going to be woken up between 2am and 5.30am then waiting for my alarm clock going off at 6.30am to go to work.
Didn't have this problem when it was twilights.
I'd be more interested if they offered to close at midnight, or even 1am and had staff outside to encourage people to go home immediately and quietly.
Tadpole - you make a very good point above along with those raised by sn4fu and Annie. It's good to know that common sense prevails on this site sometimes!

simono
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by simono » 14 Mar 2014 23:38

I am going to make one of my rare forays onto the site but am moved to do so as a close neighbour of the Zanzibar night club who sadly regularly suffers from the anti social behaviour of its patrons.
Sydenham needs to be a thriving place to live, work and play. However this means encouraging businesses that add to rather than subtract from this. The Zanzibar business model is based on people arriving in the area after midnight when other venues have closed. That helps no one other than the surrounding 24 hour off licences. It also means maximum disruption to people who do live in the surrounding area.
I am afraid I can think of no business model other than a club that needs to be open until 5.00am. And to translate that for people who do not live in the area affected, that means people who have left the club still in surrounding roads, loud, often aggressive, playing loud music in their cars, whilst talking to their friends through open windows at 5.30 in the morning. It also means cabs arriving and sounding their horns whilst they attract trade at similar hours.
The Zanzibar club is a business and is therefore predicated on making a profit and the business model clearly works. To many promises of change have been made in the past and there has been no improvement, indeed things have got worse.
Future business models must also make a profit and any consultants advising the owners will clearly need to do the same. However there are lots of business models which work without causing huge nuisance to their neighbours and damage to their communities. Certainly the very welcome proposals for a cinema, arts venue, place where activities for children and even well run club nights could really benefit the area. However none of these (activities for children!) need to operate until 5.00am.
I will be attending Wednesday's meeting and will b actively lobbying for considerable reductions in the clubs opening hours and hope that other likeminded people who genuinely care about the community and all the people who live in it, will do the same.

Gaddison
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by Gaddison » 17 Mar 2014 17:18

From all accounts, especially the evidence submitted it seems patently clear the current owner has no regard for the local residents or contributing positively to the development of [Sydenham. The failure to meet agreed commitments and the tolerance of such gross antisocial and criminal behaviour is staggering.

The creators of this string write enthusiastically about 'working with the owner' in a way that a youthful and naive parole officer may speak hopefully of 'working with' and rehabilitating a serial offender, whilst denying the reality.

There has been ample time for the proprietor to rectify problems and demonstrate a commitment to a business model that is not damaging to Sydenham, but has clearly chosen not to.

I don't believe as local citizens we need to tolerate such a detrimental presence and I will be pushing for revocation of the licence, given such persistent and significant breaches.

I am all for the space to be used as a cinema, or bar etc, but I believe that opportunity should be given to someone fresh who will be willing to make a positive contribution to the area

BelindaLester
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Re: Project Zanzibar–creating a venue that’s right for Syden

Post by BelindaLester » 11 Apr 2014 13:50

Sadly, Louise and I won't be managing programming for the Zanzibar space

We have been working with some talented partners to bring the space back into life as a valued and busy community asset, but unfortunately our original arrangement with John fell through

Thanks to everyone who supported and commented on our proposals - a lot of people put time and energy into this. The good news is we can still run a lot of these events if we can find alternative venues in the area - watch this space!

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