Live events sector
The “toilet circuit” network of small music venues and indeed other larger venues in the UK has claimed an important victory after ministers agreed to introduce legislation which will protect established music venues and clubs from property developers and incoming residents. Planning rules favouring complaints from residents in new developments over the noise levels from an established music venue nearby have been cited by clubs forced to close their doors.Now the British government is introducing new legislation giving local authorities the powers to better protect live music venues against redevelopment pressures. Its not a full ‘agent of change’ approach – but its an important step forwards.
Its too late for some though: venues including The Cockpit in Leeds and the Sheffield Boardwalk, where Ed Sheeran and Arctic Monkeys played formative shows, have shut whilst in London an estimated 40% of music venues have closed over the past decade. A UK Music study of Bristol’s live scene found that 50% of the city’s music venues were affected by development, noise or planning issues. These issues pose a direct threat to the future of Bristol’s vibrant ecosystem which generated £123 towards the local economy in 2015 and supported 927 (full time equivalent) jobs.
The new regulations, which come into effect on 6 April 2016, mean developers are now required to seek prior approval on noise impacts before changing the use of a site from offices to residential dwellings. UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union have welcomed the government’s move.
Recent development right extensions, which have allowed premises to change from commercial buildings to residential ones, have put pressure on music venues by making them prone to noise complaints from residents once they move into the area.
In a letter to UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple, culture minister Ed Vaizey MP – together with ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government – suggests that the new regulations will encourage local authorities to require applicants to put in place noise mitigation measures where appropriate.
He also outlines other steps government intends to take, including notifying chief planning officers of the change to permitted development rights and re-emphasising updated planning guidance on noise that highlights the potential of new residential developments on live music venues. Local authorities will have to take into account the existence of an already established music venue, generating a certain amount of noise, when development applications are lodged.
While the legislation does not constitute the introduction of an Agent of Change principle, it does mark a step-change in planning law. The ministers said: “We are now including a provision that allows the local planning authority to consider noise impacts on new residents from existing businesses within the area.”
The UK live music sector as a whole contributed almost a billion pounds in Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2014 and employs over 25,000 people across the country.
Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust chief executive, said: “We warmly welcome this breakthrough for the UK’s grassroots music venues. This common sense move by the government provides an opportunity for local authorities to use their powers to ensure that live music continues to play a vital economic, cultural and social role in our towns and cities.” adding “For music venues, this has never been about stopping development or preventing the creation of much needed new housing; it’s always been about ensuring that new development recognises the culture, economy and vibrancy of city centres by building great housing, enabling existing music venues and new residents to live in harmony. This is a major victory for the UK’s music venues and music fans. The fight to protect, secure and improve them goes on.”
Jo Dipple, UK Music chief executive, added: “Ministers Ed Vaizey, Brandon Lewis and James Wharton deserve sincere thanks for taking up our cause and offering to act on industry concerns. There are times when it seems government does not listen. When it does, and when it acts on what it hears, we should be proud of our political masters” adding
“The Music Venue Trust has done an amazing job to raise awareness and push this issue to the top of the governmental “in tray”. If these new regulations have the desired effect, grassroots venues around the UK will have additional powers to help them survive and prosper.”
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 was presented to parliament on 11 March 2016 and will come into effect from the 6 April 2016.
The amendments read:
“O.2.—(1) Development under Class O is permitted subject to the condition that before beginning the development, the developer must apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required as to— (a) transport and highways impacts of the development, (b) contamination risks on the site, (c) flooding risks on the site, and (d) impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development, and the provisions of paragraph W (prior approval) apply in relation to that application. (2) Development under Class O is permitted subject to the condition that it must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date.”
“O.3. For the purposes of Class O, “commercial premises” means any premises normally used for the purpose of any commercial or industrial undertaking which existed on the date of application under paragraph O.2(1), and includes any premises licensed under the Licensing Act 2003(a) or any other place of public entertainment.”
The new regulations can be found here: