One of Dundee’s student unions has plans to turn a “gift to the city” into a nightclub – despite already having a venue of its own.
The Dundee University Students Association (DUSA) has submitted a proposal to Dundee’s local licensing body seeking permission to reimagine the city’s Bonar Hall as a nightclub for up to 1,100 people.
The union initially wants to expand the maximum permitted capacity from the current level of 600 people to 900 – aiming for the 1,100 figure after “works to increase fire exit capacity”.
Under the plans, which are expected to be reviewed by councillors at a meeting next month, DUSA hopes to open Bonar Hall until 2.30am between Sundays and Thursdays and until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
It also wants permission to hold nightclub-style events, live performances, televised sports and events which involve an element of gambling.
As is, DUSA runs regular club nights from its existing union building on Airlie Place
The proposal could see the future of the Bonar Hall change dramatically from its original intended purpose when it first opened in 1977.
A spokesman for Dusa said: “The ‘Dundee University Students’ Association (DUSA) and The University of Dundee have been sharing the space at Bonar Hall since 2016, and have been working to raise the profile of the venue during this exciting time for Dundee.
“With the redevelopment of the waterfront, opening of the V&A, and Dundee being named a ‘must visit city’, this was the perfect time to invest in Bonar Hall’s future.
“The venue has always been multi-purpose and currently operates a large portfolio of events, such as conferences, martial arts tournaments, weddings, formal examinations during semester time as well as a variety of others.
“The current variation application to the licence is to continue with the expansion of the portfolio of events as we have identified a demand for bespoke one-off experiences for which a late licence would be more appropriate. This would include hosting festival style gigs and concerts from high-profile acts and DJs from across the UK.
“It should be made clear that it isn’t DUSA’s intention (and has never been) to operate Bonar Hall as a nightclub in the traditional sense. This application is simply to allow for maximum utilisation of this historic venue in the heart of Dundee’s cultural quarter.
“There are very few concert style venues in Dundee in such an ideal location with the range of facilities and layout that Bonar Hall enjoys. It is DUSA’s intention – working collaboratively with the university – to continue with the expansion of the genre of events that the venue can host.
“Bonar Hall remains a bookable space for events of all types that it can accommodate – excluding exam periods – throughout the calendar year and welcomes any enquiries in this regard. DUSA is very much looking forward hearing the outcome of our application before the end of the year.”
Funded by Sir Herbert Bonar, a member of one of Scotland’s jute families, the auditorium was designed by architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia as a gift to the city of Dundee.
Its creation was the result of a public appeal run by the University of St Andrews before Dundee became the independent institution it is today.
These days, the Bonar Hall hosts a variety of public and private functions all year round, from gin festivals to ceilidhs, as well as the annual Dundee Mountain Film Festival and the Festival of the Future.
Today was the deadline for objections to the plans, ahead of a meeting of Dundee City Licensing Board on December 12.