Zouk's neighbours say noise, trash a 'nuisance'

CLUB'S EFFORTS: Zouk said it has various measures in place to reduce noise from the club and patrons outside its premises.
CLUB'S EFFORTS: Zouk said it has various measures in place to reduce noise from the club and patrons outside its premises.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
CLUB'S EFFORTS: Zouk said it has various measures in place to reduce noise from the club and patrons outside its premises. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
CLUB'S EFFORTS: Zouk said it has various measures in place to reduce noise from the club and patrons outside its premises. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

Dance club's operations incompatible with residential area, says URA

Popular dance club Zouk has to leave its Jiak Kim Street premises as its presence has led to a noise and littering problem in an area shaping up to be a residential district, said the authorities.

Residents have been giving feedback on "the nuisance" caused by large numbers of young people gathering at the waterfront next to Zouk, an Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday.

They would consume alcohol into the wee hours, often leaving behind empty bottles and cans.

Zouk's operations are incompatible with the Robertson Quay area, which is likely to see more housing under a new Master Plan.

"Zouk will need to find a new site, and not count on indefinite extensions," said the spokesman.

The club's site at Jiak Kim Street was zoned for "Hotel" use under the previous Master Plan, but this became "Residential with Commercial at 1st storey" use after a recent review of the plan.

Yesterday, Zouk founder Lincoln Cheng said in response that he has taken measures to address the problems since early this year.

"We have three teams of cleaners to rinse down the promenade on both sides of the river, so the kids don't congregate and have an alcohol picnic," Mr Cheng told The Straits Times.

"We employ more auxiliary police to stop the taxis in the front and stop them from honking, otherwise they try to cut queue to get customers. We also make sure those sports cars that drive out... don't drive at high speed, making loud exhaust noises at 4.30am."

"Those are conditions that we have fulfilled to get the lease extensions and we have done all that already," he added.

In 2010, the club built additional exit doors facing the residential area to buffer and reduce sound from the venue.

"When the developers were selling the apartments, Zouk was one of their selling points, that it is close to the condos they built. People know they are close to Zouk and they still wanted to buy the apartments," said Mr Cheng.

But Mr Clement Chin, 44, an investment manager who lives near Zouk, said cleanliness was a problem despite its efforts.

The cleaners and condo security guards would wash the pavements to stop people from sitting on the wet pavements, but they would just move to another spot, he said.

"They don't talk loudly but would sometimes burst out laughing loudly and that can be very disturbing for the residents."

But other residents The Straits Times spoke to were surprised to hear Zouk may close by the year end if its lease is not renewed.

Housewife Grace Chong, 58, said she was "shocked". "We have gotten used to it (the noise and litter) by now. It doesn't impede our lifestyle in any way."

Opened in 1991, Zouk has become Singapore's longest-lived and most globally renowned nightspot. It won the Best Nightspot Experience award given by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) a record nine times.

In reply to queries from The Straits Times, Mr Oliver Chong, STB's executive director of communications and industry marketing, said: "STB will continue to facilitate efforts for Zouk to identify alternative locations as it is an established local enterprise with proven track record and has helped shape Singapore's entertainment landscape."

joycel@sph.com.sg