London’s O2 Academy Brixton has been permitted to keep its license and re-open, after it was closed when a fatal crowd crush occurred in December 2022.
The legendary venue has been closed since the incident, when security worker Gabrielle Hutchinson and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo were killed in a deadly crush at an Asake concert. A third person, who was seriously injured, remains in hospital. In January, Lambeth Council suspended the venue’s license for three months, whilst investigations into the cause of the crush continued. In April, the Metropolitan Police applied to have the license permanently revoked.
A hearing into the venue’s future began on Monday, with operators AMG outlining a series of news proposals to increase safety – including strengthened doors to prevent further crushes. They also plan to increase the numbers of medical staff and body-worn cameras, as well as install improved lighting in Astoria Walk, the side street from which the overcrowding stemmed.
While Lambeth Council said it would support the venue’s reopening if necessary changes are made, the Metropolitan Police told the hearing they could not support such a move if operators Academy Music Group (AMG) were still in charge.
Today (September 15), Lambeth Council has ruled that the venue can reopen providing that it meets 77 “extensive and robust” conditions which are “designed to promote public safety”.
“We are pleased to announce that Brixton Academy will retain its license and is poised to reopen, marking a momentous milestone in safeguarding this cherished landmark,” said Night Time Industry Association CEO Michael Kill. “Our profound appreciation goes out to the countless supporters and stakeholders who rallied behind us during this critical juncture.
“Brixton Academy has consistently held a special place in the hearts of music aficionados, and its cultural significance is immeasurable. We have consistently advocated for its safe reopening, and today’s decision reaffirms our unwavering commitment to ensuring its continued success as a hub for live music and entertainment.”
He added: “We also recognise the profound responsibility that accompanies this, and acknowledge the tragic events of last December, which resulted in the loss of two lives.
“We are resolute in our commitment to supporting the implementation of the agreed stringent safety measures to prevent any such tragedy from recurring. Our paramount concern remains the safety and enjoyment of all those who enjoy nightlife.”
London Night Czar Amy Lamé added: “Firstly, my heart goes out to the families and loved ones of Gaby and Rebecca and the woman who remains in a critical condition in hospital following the awful events at O2 Brixton Academy.”
“I know how cherished the O2 Brixton Academy is by artists, fans and the local community and how important it is to the UK’s live music scene. I am pleased that Lambeth Council are satisfied that the O2 Brixton Academy can be safely reopened by Academy Music Group.”