Is The Prince Albert at risk of losing its crown?

One of Brighton’s most beloved venues is under threat—what are the plans, and why should we be worried?

Is The Prince Albert at risk of losing its crown?
Source: The Brighton Seagull 

One of Brighton’s most beloved venues is under threat, with music lovers joining hands and expressing their anger towards recent proposals for the abandoned car rental unit next door, writes Kristian Floate.

The Prince Albert, located on Trafalgar Street where it has stood since the 19th century, has gained its reputation as one of the places to be for your live music fix in the city. Local music enthusiasts have been flocking to the 100-capacity venue to support artists such as City Dog, Dum Fun, and Snake Eyes, who I was lucky enough to see earlier this month. Standing amongst a sold-out crowd and watching the beaming faces of fans chanting every word to their recent single, 'no one is truly cool’, it’s clear to see why The Prince Albert is loved by so many, and why these recent proposals have caused such distress amongst Brighton’s music community. But what are the plans, and why should we be worried?

Back in August 2022, Brighton & Hove City Council released a planning application for the previous car rental unit located next door to the pub, revealing plans to erect 'a four storey building comprising commercial floorspace and two holiday lets' in its place. With the first-floor stage backing directly onto this building, you can begin to see the issues that the development could cause for The Prince Albert—after all, who would want a drum kit being played next to their bedroom?

There’s no denying that our music venues are (and will continue to be) one of the most important assets to the city, allowing free creative expression to thousands of artists. Ironically, the council are aware of this, as they boast: "We're home to hundreds of artists and creative producers. We host over 60 festivals a year, including the largest annual arts festival in England". One of these festivals, The Great Escape, is an annual multi-venue event showcasing new and upcoming talent from across the globe, and has used The Prince Albert as a venue for a number of years. This goes to show that The Prince Albert isn’t just a standalone venue, but part of an interconnected network of events, venues, and musicians at the heart of the local grassroots music scene.

This part of the city is full of noise, with neighbouring venue Green Door Store only a few steps away. To see this element of the pub being stripped would open a hole that wouldn’t be easy to fill.  These creative spaces have nurtured the talent of some now mainstream names throughout their history, so to see those artists continuing to be supported is of the utmost priority to many gig-going music lovers.

The plans have seen an overwhelming response due to the importance of Brighton's role as a rich arts and culture hub, attracting visitors from far and wide to indulge in a piece of the city’s infectious heritage.  To see such an iconic building under threat is something that local musicians, fans, and general pub-goers alike haven’t taken lightly. At the time of writing, 1,238 comments against the plans, and a measly four comments in support of the development have been posted on the council’s website since August 2022–that’s a whopping 99.7% of respondents objecting to the development!  

One comment reads:

Allowing residential units to be built next to a live music venue will likely result in its closure and the loss of another historic and important part of our vibrant Brighton culture. We can't keep allowing developers profits to take priority over protecting our dwindling local music venues.

And another:

The Prince Albert is an iconic pub and music venue. Putting residential/holiday properties next door to it will inevitably lead to noise complaints, with the risk of the pub being shut down entirely.

With the creative industries continuing to recover from COVID-19, amongst new waves of austerity and the cost of living crisis that has caused havoc for the live music industry, The Prince Albert has felt the effects. However, this hasn’t stopped waves of support flowing in across social media and beyond.

It’s clear to see how sentimental this colourful little pub has become for so many people, and we’ll continue to grit our teeth as we wait to see what will happen with the abandoned building next door. With so many venues struggling across the UK, our comments and objections are vital to prevent more venue closures.

How can you get involved? Make a comment on the council’s site, and show your support to local venues like The Prince Albert to make sure these spaces can continue to thrive for generations to come–after all, what’s Brighton without music?