Sheffield’s Leadmill wins first court battle to avoid eviction from landlord


Historic live venue The Leadmill has won its first court battle against its landlord, following the threat of eviction.

Back in 2022, the future of the Sheffield venue came under threat after the owners of the building issued an eviction notice, sparking an outcry across the music industry and from gig-goers.

The premises are owned by Electric Group — a joint venture between Dominic Madden and Jacob Lewis – and also own London’s Electric Brixton, Bristol’s SWX and Newcastle’s NX. They bought the site’s freehold in 2017 and previously told music fans that they had no intention of closing the venue when they end the current occupiers’ lease.

However, the management soon hit back, arguing that they were being “exterminated by the landlord” before launching a fresh appeal to fans, asking for support after revealing that landlords were reportedly moving forward with eviction plans .

Madden then responded again, doubling down on claims that they “intend to continue operating the space as a music venue, focussing on a diverse mix of gigs, club nights and comedy events.”

Now, after taking the matter to court, it has been confirmed that The Leadmill is one step closer to winning the battle against the landlord.

The case was heard by Recorder Mohyuddin, King’s Counsel, in the Leeds Business & Property Court on Monday and Tuesday (May 20 and 21). It comes after the venue had changed its legal team, and various submissions were put forward to explain why they believe the landlord’s approach is unlawful.

Jamie Webster performs live on stage at The Leadmill, Sheffield.
Jamie Webster performs live on stage at The Leadmill, Sheffield. (Photo by Robin Burns/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

During the appeal, the judge decided to transfer the case to the High Court, and stated that he thought three out of the four amended defence arguments put forward by The Leadmill had “a real prospect of success”.

In his latest witness statement, Madden confirmed that if he succeeded in his eviction, the space would no longer be called ‘The Leadmill’ and all current staff would be replaced. He also stated that he would be evicting the workshop users if he succeeds, putting an end to the tenancies of those still working from The Leadmill.

In response, The Leadmill has claimed in a press release that such actions are “a violation of the well-established principles of Human Rights law”, and requested that the “next Government takes steps to prevent such morally bankrupt business methods from occurring in the future”.

NME has reached out to a spokesperson for the Electric Group for comment.

While the future of the live music space still remains uncertain, the win does come in light of The Leadmill launching a ‘Battle For The Soul Of Sheffield’ campaign last summer, in a bid to rally support as the venue fights for survival.

“This hostile takeover risks fundamentally and forever changing the course of our great city, our heritage, and our culture. It may start with us at The Leadmill, but it goes much further than that.” a spokesperson said, announcing the campaign. “This hostile takeover threatens to kickstart a race to the bottom of a corporate barrel, putting at risk over 43 years of cultural heritage, history and community work from across our city, its people and businesses.”

Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello performing on stage at The Leadmill in Sheffield
Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello performing on stage at The Leadmill in Sheffield (Photo by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns/Getty Images)

“This landlord is exploiting a legal loophole to evict and destroy a highly regarded, independent, Sheffield success story, forcing us to cease trading, all for profit. But it’s even worse than that,” they added. “It couldn’t be clearer. This is not just about The Leadmill. This is a fundamental Battle for the Soul of Sheffield. That’s why we’re asking you to help us win this battle.”

Madden continued to defend their move, sharing a statement claiming that the campaigns from the venue were “misleading people into thinking we want to close the venue with no regard for its history.”

“That is not the case. In fact, we want to invest in the future of the space – albeit one which will mark the start of a new chapter for a building which has many generations of history with a variety of different operators since it was first a flour mill,” he said.

Since first opening its doors in 1980, the venue has hosted early shows from Arctic Monkeys, Kings Of Leon and The Killers, and remains a popular live music and clubbing spot.

After news of it coming under threat emerged in 2022, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited The Leadmill and encouraged others to “get behind it.

He also echoed the views of countless Sheffield locals, hailing it as “the heart of the city”, as well as the stance held by Arctic Monkeys, Jarvis Cocker and Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes among the Sheffield artists to have spoken out in support of the venue.

Sheffield’s Richard Hawley has also been a vocal supporter of The Leadmill for years now– having played a number of gigs there throughout 2022 to raise money and awareness. Some of his shows also saw him joined on stage by fellow Sheffield artists Jarvis Cocker and Rebecca Taylor (aka Self Esteem).

Richard Hawley performs at City Hall in Sheffield, England.
Richard Hawley performs in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Neil H Kitson/Redferns/Getty Images)

Speaking to NME about the history behind the venue last February, Hawley said that the staff who’ve built up the venue over the years should be allowed to continue running it under the same name.

“The upsetting thing is that if it was a failing business, I’d understand that someone would take it over. What angers me is that it doesn’t surprise me that greedy fuckers buy the land from underneath them. If they threw [the venue staff] out and turned it into flats, it would be an absolute tragedy but slightly easier to accept,” he said.

“The fact that what they’ve basically done is bought the land from underneath them, issued them with an eviction notice, and are going to steal their business. That to me is wildly immoral. If I was running a venue, or even a chip shop, I’d think, ‘Hold on a sec, if they get away with it with these, then who’s next?’ It’s just wrong.”





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