The O2 Academy Newcastle is to close and be replaced with another live music venue, according to planning documents submitted to the city council.
Three planning applications from the Electric Group are seeking permission to carry out work to the building on Westgate Road.
The documents state that the Electric Group – the music venue operator behind Electric Brixton and SWX in Bristol – bought the freehold for the site in 2015.
They say that the Academy Group’s lease expires in March 2021 and that, subject to planning permission, Electric Group plans to carry out “a significant scheme of renovation and improvements before reopening as Newcastle’s premier live music venue”.
The three planning applications seek permission for alterations to the roof to create a “floating” customer area, LED panels and illuminated lettering and a light box on the front of the building.
Sketches of the design submitted to Newcastle City Council suggest that the venue is to be called ‘Audio’.
The documents say, “With the closure of the O2 Academy it is important that Newcastle develops a world class touring event live music venue and these work form part of a package which will successfully contribute to this.
“The proposals show confidence in the late night/leisure economy of Newcastle and, more so now than ever during these extremely difficult times, should be welcomed and approved.”
The imposing building on Westgate Road dates back to 1927 when it started life as a cinema before closing in 1958 and becoming the Majestic Ballroom, which played host to three performances by the Beatles in 1963.
Latterly the building was used as a bingo club, and since 2005 to the present date has been operated by the Academy Music Group as a gig venue.
Towards the end of last year, the company said it was on the acquisition trail, and was looking to acquire new properties in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
At the time it was reported that a further site was due to open in Newcastle in 2021.
Electric Group was formed in 2013 as a joint venture between its chief executive Dominic Madden, and Jake Lewis of the Lewis Family, who own River Island among other business interests.
Electric Group CEO and co-founder, Dominic Madden, previously told Edinburgh Live: “Very little can compare to the thrill of a live gig and with our extensive experience in the music and entertainment business and with sound financial backing from the Lewis family, we are committed to growing our business around the UK in key city centres.”
One of the applications is for a new roof platform “floating above the existing flat roof” with surrounding screening and a glazed canopy.
The documents say, “Since 2007 the provision of external customer space has become more and more important to live music and entertainment venues. Recent events regarding the Covid-19 outbreak have further accelerated the desire for outdoor space.
“The formation of the roof area will allow customers to enjoy a safe secure external area without any of the potential conflict issues associated with exiting the premises and will reduce the reliance on allowing customers to exit and be readmitted.”
Permission is also sought for “a new traditional cinema style projecting canopy with changeable lettering”.
The Academy Group, which currently operates the site, took over Newcastle’s City Hall last year.
They have since put together an investment programme which aims to bring back the venue’s glory days, creating a second bar area and new toilets by building a mezzanine floor, plus an extra fire escape.
A schedule for the works and the proposed new venue is currently unclear.
The Academy Group said they were unable to comment at this time, while Electric Group could not be reached.