LambethNews

Brixton Academy plans to replace crowd barriers revealed ahead of council hearing next month

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans have been revealed to replace crowd control barriers at the O2 Academy Brixton ahead of a crunch meeting to decide its future next month.

The venue’s operator, Academy Music Group [AMG], has applied to Lambeth council for permission to replace existing barriers at the premises.

The application submitted on August 16 comes weeks before a two-day hearing in September where councillors will decide the future of the 94-year-old venue, which has been closed since a fatal crowd crush in December last year.

Gabrielle Hutchinson, 23, a security worker, and mum-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, a nursing graduate, died from injuries they sustained in the crush outside the venue during a gig by Afrobeats singer Asake on December 15 2022. A 21-year-old woman injured on the night remains in a serious condition in hospital.

According to planning documents submitted to the council, the venue’s current barriers “have been in use for a long time, and as such have needed repair work carried out on them on various occasions.”

The new barriers will “provide safe crowd break barriers for use during concerts”, the documents add.

The proposed alterations to the O2 Academy Brixton follow on the back of plans revealed in June to fit speakers outside the venue that will broadcast safety warnings to assist with crowd control. At the same time, AMG announced separate plans to replace eight basement fire doors below the stage in the Grade-II listed venue.

AMG’s application to allow the venue to reopen will be considered by councillors at a two-day hearing on September 11 and 12 at Lambeth town hall in Brixton.

A separate application by the Met Police to strip AMG of its licence to operate the O2 Academy Brixton will also be heard.

Lambeth council is undertaking a health and safety investigation into the fatal incident, which is being led by ex-council chief executive Paul Martin. A police investigation into the tragedy is ongoing.

Councillor Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s cabinet member for safer communities, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who lost their lives, as well as with the person who is still in hospital, and all those suffering the trauma of witnessing such distressing scenes at one of our borough’s live music venues.

“We are determined to use the powers we have available to us to make sure the lessons of this tragedy are learnt, and that we never see a traumatic incident like this again in Lambeth.”

Pictured top: Police cordon outside of O2 Academy Brixton following crowd crush in December (Picture: Robert Firth)

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