PLANS to extend opening hours at Oxford’s leading music venue have sparked a backlash among residents.
Managers at the O2 Academy, in Cowley Road, have applied to open the venue an hour earlier every day and stay open until midnight on Sundays – an hour longer than at present. They also want to stay open until 4am on the Sundays before bank holidays.
The plans have prompted 46 letters of objection from neighbours who fear the extension could mean people will be drinking for an hour longer, which they say could increase antisocial behaviour.
Ed Chipperfield, spokesman for the East Oxford Residents’ Associations, said: “There is a feeling that not only is the venue asking for too much, but that what it already has should be taken away.”
The changes would mean the venue would stay open from 6pm to 2am from Monday to Thursday, 6pm to 4am on Fridays and Saturdays and from noon to midnight on Sundays.
It would also mean it could stay open until 4am on Sundays before bank holidays, and until 6am for May Morning revellers on April 30.
Mr Chipperfield said residents were particularly concerned about the venue’s Fuzzy Ducks student nights on Wednesdays.
He added: “Our major issue with the Academy is with the Fuzzy Ducks night. We have no problems with the gigs, and other events like that, but Fuzzy Ducks is another creature entirely.”
He said residents had visited the club night on a Wednesday evening and had seen “mayhem” on the streets.
He said: “People were jumping in front of buses, kicking bins over and climbing up lampposts. And this is every Wednesday.
“We don’t think the O2 Academy should be granted anything until it sorts these problems out.”
The application, which was submitted to the council as an alteration to its planning permission, has been called in by city councillors.
It will be discussed at an upcoming meeting on a date yet to be set.
Magdalen Road resident Nick Hewitt said: “I, along with my neighbours, some of whom are extremely respectful students, am already frequently disturbed at night by people coming back in the early hours of the morning, making a lot of noise. To allow a further extension of these opening hours can only make matters worse for residents and must not be allowed to go ahead.”
Kathy Barber, from Aston Street, said: “I believe it’s unreasonable to have a club open until 4am.”
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “I was appalled to learn of this application, which will rightly and understandably raise a storm of opposition from residents across East Oxford, who are totally sick of all the antisocial behaviour and noise they suffer from the existing Fuzzy Ducks Wednesday late night opening at the O2.”
O2 Academy spokesman Louise Kovacs said the venue was bringing its opening hours in line with other clubs in the area.