Stamford bar gets green light for live music

A POPULAR bar and restaurant has won its battle to hold live music and comedy shows.

Mama Liz’s Soulfood Shack, in North Street, Stamford, was granted planning permission on Tuesday to use its basement area, known as the Voodoo Lounge, for live music and comedy.

The change of use is subject to a number of conditions which require the venue to be fully soundproofed, following noise complaints from the adjoining St Mary and St Augustine’s Catholic Church, in Broad Street.

Co-owner Liz Bullimore, the titular ‘Mama Liz’, launched a passionate defence of her business at a South Kesteven District Council planning meeting in Grantham earlier this week.

She said: “We are proud of our business and we want Stamford to be proud of us.

“We are happy to comply with all the conditions. As soon as we knew about the sound problem we were determined to do something about it.

“We want to smother the sound so that our neighbour can’t hear a thing.”

Mama Liz’s, which employs 40 staff, has held live music events since it opened in 2008. It was served with a planning enforcement order against the shows in March 2010, after the council found it did not have the relevant planning permission.

The venue has received huge backing from the Stamford community, with almost 3,000 people signing a petition to save it.

Co-owner Michael Hoolihan said: “It has been a difficult two years but we would like to thank everyone who supported us through the process, the response to our troubles has been phenomenal.

“Knowing that support was there saw us through a difficult time.

“The soundproofing is 70 per cent finished, and now the decision has been made we can finish the rest as quickly as possible.

“Everyone here can now look forward to developing the venue to its fullest potential.

“We hope to make something Stamford can be proud of.”

A link with New College Stamford has just been established and students will soon be able to peform their compositions live on stage.

College head of music Sam Chapman said: “We are hoping to hold college performances there, it’s fantastic that the students will have somewhere to play and to develop their talent.

“There isn’t really anywhere like Mama Liz’s in Stamford, so it’s great for everyone that the decision has gone their way.

“It’s a good partnership and we are hoping to hold some gigs in May, when students will give the final performances of their course.”

Councillor Maureen Jalili (Lib Dem), representing St John’s ward, said: “Mama Liz’s is clearly a popular place and they employ a lot of people in the town.

“They have done a lot of work already and between that and the conditions imposed by the planning officers we should end up with a positive outcome.”

And Coun John Harvey (Con), representing St Mary’s Ward, added: “The venue fills a niche market for live music in the town, and it is important that we keep these things going.”