Iconic Bristol nightclub Lakota for sale to property developers

Inside Bristol club Lakota
-Credit: (Image: Giulia Spadafora / Soul Media)

One of Bristol’s most famous nightclubs could close soon after the building was put up for sale as a redevelopment project.

Lakota Nightclub in St Pauls has been put on the market by the Burgess family, with estate agents marketing it as a site with planning permission to build 46 new homes on the site.

Bristol City Council gave permission back in April 2020 for the redevelopment, but the club reopened after the Covid pandemic with new refurbishments and venue spaces in the past three years. Now, as Lakota’s owners make a raft of fresh planning applications to approve the finer details of the redevelopment, the entire site has gone on the market through estate agents JLL and CJ Hole.

There is no closure date for Lakota as yet, and the immediate future of the iconic club depends on how quickly a sale is made, and what the buyer’s intentions are. The agents marketing the property are telling prospective buyers that ‘vacant possession’ can be ‘provided at completion’, but that ‘consideration will be given to leaseback proposals, with terms to be agreed’.

A spokesperson for JLL said: “The site offers an excellent opportunity to redevelop and deliver a scheme of scale which is likely to attract strong demand from the residential sales market given the proximity to the city centre and surrounding amenities.”

That planning permission was originally sought in 2019, and although councillors gave their approval in April 2020, it wasn’t signed off by planning officers until August 2021. With that planning application technically lapsing in August 2024, a quick sale could see new buyers begin work as soon as possible.

Lakota nightclub just off Stokes Croft -Credit:Bristol
Lakota nightclub just off Stokes Croft -Credit:Bristol

Earlier this month, Lakota’s owners Fresh Yard submitted a series of new planning applications, through planning agents Pegasus Group, asking city council officers to discharge and sign off on a number of conditions imposed on the original planning permission. This technicality requires developers to have approved programmes of how they are going to demolish buildings, alter listed buildings or start work on new buildings.

Lakota occupies a triangle of land, just off the junction of City Road and Stokes Croft, bounded on three sides by Upper York Street, Moon Street and Backfields. The area is seeing some large-scale redevelopment - most notably the big site of the former Blue Mountain nightclub just around the corner on Stokes Croft, has been levelled and is now being redeveloped, while there are plans to demolish and build a student accommodation block above a renewed Mickleburgh Instruments music shop opposite.

The plans approved by councillors more than four years ago for Lakota would see the listed former coroners court converted, and the old bottle works factory knocked down, with new four-storey residential buildings in its place.

Artist impression of the plans for the site of Lakota nightclub in St Pauls, Bristol
Artist impression of the plans for the site of Lakota nightclub in St Pauls, Bristol -Credit:JLL

“The scheme is designed to restore and enhance the characteristics of the existing buildings, while creating a vibrant and attractive development through the new build element and modern landscaping designs,” said a JLL spokesperson. “The proposed scheme includes a mix of one-bed, two-bed and three bed apartments, as well as one split level commercial unit,” he added, describing the sale as ‘an excellent opportunity to acquire a central site with planning consent’.

When Lakota tried to get planning permission, hundreds of people wrote in to object to the plans, demanding councillors refuse them to save the club itself.

After permission was granted, Lakota’s owners said they would try to keep the Lakota club going - potentially in a different venue.

"We’ve worked incredibly hard on this over the last two and a half years and would like to thank all our consultants, officers, ward councillors, the local community and especially Lakota’s fans for their input into this,” a Burgess family spokesperson said at the time, in April 2020.

Marti Burgess, owner of Lakota -Credit:Bristol Live
Marti Burgess, owner of Lakota -Credit:Bristol Live

"This has been a difficult process as no one loves Lakota more than we do. We would like to reassure Lakota’s fans that we remain committed to the city’s nightlife,” they added.

One of the councillors on the planning committee in April 2020 who voted in favour of the redevelopment plan was the then Green Party councillor for Clifton Down, Carla Denyer. She told Bristol Live at the time why she backed the project.

"It feels like an end of an era to hear that Bristol’s legendary music venue Lakota, owned and run by Marti Burgess and her family since the 1990s, may be turned into flats,” she said back then.

Artist impression of the plans for the site of Lakota nightclub in St Pauls, Bristol
Artist impression of the plans for the site of Lakota nightclub in St Pauls, Bristol -Credit:JLL

"There is no doubt that Lakota has been a very important music venue and lynchpin of Bristol’s alternative music scene for decades, and that unique music scene is a big part of what brought me to Bristol in 2009.

"It was a difficult job to sit alongside councillors from all parties to consider Marti Burgess' planning application for the conversion, especially as our job is to see if the application is lawful, so we’re not allowed to make decisions based on our personal opinions however much we might like to.

"The application was in line with council policy, and in fact the building had already been earmarked for housing in a council decision made in early 2015, before I became a councillor. So I, alongside five other councillors, voted that the Burgess family's application is permitted,” she added.