SALISBURY has received a blow to its nighttime economy as two clubs shut their doors in the city for the last time.

The Box (formerly Music Box) and Kandi Lounge, both on Catherine Street, will both close as they are no longer “financially viable”.

Owner Alex Nettle voiced fears that he may be forced to close the nightclubs back in February, because of access problems with a developer building flats on the site next door.

Mr Nettle said Acorn Property Group, currently constructing 16 apartments in the former HPI office building, had blocked the clubs’ fire escapes.

As a result fire marshals slashed the overall capacity from more than 500 people to 120 people at a time.

The clubs lost thousands as a result, and Mr Nettle feared the move may have been deliberate on behalf of the developers.

He previously told the Journal: “If they can get rid of the two nightclubs next door, the resale prices on their flats will go up.”

Acorn Property Group refused to comment. 

He says Wiltshire Council showed “complete disregard” for his livelihood when “they gave planning for these flats without any sort of consultation with local businesses”.

But a council spokesman said Mr Nettle was "incorrect" that planning permission had been given with no consultation.

He added: “The government has brought in legislation that allows blocks of offices such as these to be converted to flats without applying for full  planning permission.

"This is a civil dispute between the two parties as the nightclub owners did not secure the fire exit when taking over the property which has led to the current situation."

The Box has already closed, with Kandi Lounge set to hold its last night on Saturday, June 16.

Mr Nettle said the developers had refused him access to the fire escape, despite allowing neighbouring Silverthorne Opticians an emergency exit route.

“If they had given us a one-metre access, all the local businesses would have been able to carry on. We don’t need much room but we need to be able to get out,” he said.

The restricted capacity means the venues have been opening on alternate weeks.

Mr Nettle said: “Sadly, my many run-ins with the council over the past 19 years of running a business here have shown a distinct lack of support for independent business in Salisbury.

“The closure of Music Box and Kandi Lounge is another great loss for the city but serves as a very sad reminder that unless you’re a big developer or a multinational corporation Salisbury doesn’t want you here.”