PERMANENT planning permission has been given to Butlin’s for a previously temporary theatre and conference centre in its Minehead holiday resort despite local opposition to the plans.

The prefabricated construction Studio 36 was put up 2021 and given permission for three years to help the holiday centre recover from the Covid lockdowns and encourage a return to pre-pandemic levels of guests.

It holds up to 1,600 people for events such as theatre, cabaret, and gala dinners, and similar venues were installed in Butlin’s two other resorts in Skegness and Bognor Regis.

Butlin’s applied to Somerset Council last summer to make it a permanent venue before its temporary consent ran out.

Studio 36, in the Butlin's Minehead holiday resort.
Studio 36, in the Butlin's Minehead holiday resort. PHOTO: Butlin's. ( )

Now, the council has agreed to the plan, despite objections from Minehead town councillors and some local residents.

Town councillors were concerned over an ‘unacceptable loss of amenity value’ for neighbours and on many occasions throughout the town, because of noise.

They also said Butlins should replace it with a building which met permanent construction specifications rather than the current temporary materials.

Butlin’s planning agent Sam Garland, of Walsingham Planning, said he accepted ‘live performances and music events held at Studio 36 will produce levels of noise above background level that if not managed and mitigated properly could, potentially, result in unwarranted noise pollution’.

However, Mr Garland said: “The performance stage has been designed to minimise noise emissions through the use of acoustic wall panelling and specific operational measures, including a bespoke amplification system and the use of sound engineers during live events.”

He said noise monitoring had confirmed the sound of live events would not significantly rise above background levels for anybody living near the resort.

Mr Garland also noted the town council’s concern about the design of Studio 36 but said the prefabricated structure had an expected design life of about 25 years.

Because Butlin’s had a ‘general desire’ to continually improve facilities for guests it was likely Studio 36 would be replaced earlier than that.

Mr Garland said internal alterations were due to be undertaken which would include the introduction of additional layers of material to the existing walls and roof, adding to the building’s structural integrity and bringing acoustic and thermal benefits.

He said Studio 36 was helping to keep Butlin’s competitive and meeting guest expectations during all weathers and times of the year, which would ensure it remained viable with secure employment in the local economy.

Somerset Council environmental health specialist Matthew Hill said ‘some complaints about noise’ had been received but it was likely some related to other venues on the site, such as the Skyline arena, and there was no evidence of Studio 36 ‘causing unreasonable disturbance’.

Planning conditions on Studio 36 restrict the use of the building to between 10am and 11pm, with an extension to 1am on New Year’s Eve.

It was built as an all-weather venue to replace an outdoor stage erected at the height of the pandemic in 2020, which, although successful, could not be used during poor weather.