Agent of change comes closer still

March 2017

Live events sector


As part of a wider review of UK housing, the Government has proposed new measures to boost the ‘agent of change’ protections to safeguard music venues from new property developments, which have been welcomed by UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union. The ‘agent of change’ principal puts the responsibility for matters such as soundproofing new homes with the developer when they choose to develop or re-develop residential accommodation near to a venue, rather than on the venue itself. In proposals announced yesterday, the government said that it would amend the National Planning Policy Framework to emphasise the consideration of existing venues in planning policies and decisions, in an attempt to avoid future noise complaints.
The problem was highlighted in the case between between the Ministry Of Sound nigh club in London’s Elephant & Castle and property company Oakmayne, which wanted to build a new block of flats opposite the club – and the Club was concerned that that complaints from new residents could impact on the venue’s licence and future ability to trade. Following a lengthy legal battle, the club and property firm reached a settlement brokered by then London Mayor Boris Johnson. Many  grassroots music venues rarely have the time, resources or budget required to battle developers, residents or to pay for costly sound proofing to be put into their venue or residential buildings. 
Page 104 of the White Paper Fixing Our Broken Housing Market says:
Noise and other impacts on new developments
A.140 The National Planning Policy Framework, supported by planning guidance, already incorporates elements of the ‘agent of change’ principle (this provides that the person or business responsible for the change should be responsible for managing the impact

of that change) in relation to noise, by being clear that existing businesses wanting to grow should not have unreasonable restrictions put on them because of changes in nearby land uses since they were established.
A.141 We propose to amend the Framework to emphasise that planning policies and decisions should take account of existing businesses and other organisations, such as churches, community pubs, music venues and sports clubs, when locating new development nearby and, where necessary, to mitigate the impact of noise and other potential nuisances arising from existing development. This will help mitigate the risk of restrictions or possible closure of existing businesses and other organisations

due to noise and other complaints from occupiers of new developments.
UK Music chief exec Jo Dipple said “UK Music has long argued that grassroots music venues need to be cherished as they are the incubators of music talent. That they are under threat has direct knock-on implications for the future of the sector, one that contributes £4.1 billion to the UK economy and supports thousands of jobs and businesses. Any new measure which acts to preserve, improve and protect these venues has the full support of our industry”.
MVT CEO Mark Davyd added: “This extends the impact of existing ‘agent of change’-style legislation and advice. It’s another huge step forward for protecting music venues and ensures residents and musical culture can exist side-by-side in towns and cities”.
MU Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge commented: “Grassroots music venues have for years been the starting place for so many of the UK’s now headline artists. Musicians need a thriving network of venues to be able to hone their craft, develop their skills and make a living. We applaud these proposals which add a further level of protection and recognise the importance of music venues to musicians, fans and communities”.


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