A bid to save beloved Bath music venue Moles has been quashed after the council refused to protect the space.

The venue announced it was closing with immediate effect and filing for insolvency in December after being “crippled” by the cost of living crisis. More than 4,000 people signed a petition to save the club, its closure was raised in Parliament, and the Music Venue Trust launched a six-point plan to ensure the place has a future as a grassroots music venue.

Step one of this plan was to get Moles recognised as an “asset of community value” by B&NES Council, which would give the community six months to put together a bid to buy it. The Music Venue Trust then hoped to raise the funds to buy the venue and keep it going as a community interest company.

But the council refused to give the venue the status. The Music Venue Trust warned that this meant the opportunity to save Moles had been “permanently lost” but the leader of the council, Kevin Guy, said that the decision could be reconsidered.

The decision said there was “not enough to show that the necessary funds will be sourced and made available to make this happen.”

It added: “The venue operated as a business; no evidence has been provided to explain how there was any specific community use in the past. It is not realistic to think that in the future it will be used to further the social well-being or social interest of the local community.”

A spokesperson for the Music Venue Trust said they were “saddened” the council had rejected the move. They said: “We believe the council’s position that Moles was not of value to the local community and did not contribute to the social wellbeing of Bath residents to be in error. Unfortunately, the only people able to undo that error are the councillors who have made it, and we therefore see no available route to an appeal.

“There is little purpose in government legislation intended to protect cultural spaces such as Bath Moles if the decision making is devolved to local councils who refuse to understand the value of live music.”

Mr Guy said: “Moles had a special place in the heart for so many of us, Bathonians and visitors to the city alike so we recognise this is disappointing news for the nominees.

“Should the community decide to submit another nomination, the music venue, as well as sufficient new evidence, would need to demonstrate its positive impact in the future not just retrospective in the social interest or well-being of the local community, then it could be reconsidered as an asset of community value.”

Tom Maddicott, who first started working at Moles in 1992 and took over as owner in 2012, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the council’s decision was “very very disappointing.” He added: “Something like this doesn’t guarantee its survival but it gives it some protection.

“Hopefully this is something that can be rectified and common sense can prevail.”