Agent of Change to (hopefully) change and protect UK Live Music and Venues

December 2017

Live events sector


UK Music has launched a new campaign with the aim to persuade Parliament to introduce the “agent of change” principle into UK law.  It’s been bubbling under for some time now (see and we last updated readers on this in March 2017. 

But what is the “agent of change” principle? Three years ago, Frank Turner warned the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid that  the country is facing “a meltdown in the British live music circuit” as venues closed – often forced to shut by new developments as new residents and businesses who move in then objected to being next door to a venue. In short it means that the person/ business responsible for the change is also responsible for the management of the impact of the change. 

For example, new houses are being built near a live music venue: Under the agent of change principle, because the business behind the new houses is creating a change, the business would be responsible for paying for the soundproofing.  On the flipside, if a new music venue wanted to set up in a residential area, the venue would be responsible for the newly required soundproofing. 

UK law at the moment says that the person who creates a nuisance is always responsible for the nuisance. This has a considerable impact on UK live music; in 2004 Brighton’s Blind Tiger Club was forced to shut after a resident in the flat above the club complained about the noise.  

Labour MP John Spellar, has agreed to put forward a agent of change proposal in the House of Commons next year. The former Conservative Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, and All Party Parliamentary Group on Music Chair, David Warbuton have already expressed they are in favour of the idea. 

Vaizey has explained that: “In order for our creative industries to continue to flourish, it is essential that we do all we can to protect our country’s brilliant grassroots venues. These venues are the lifeblood of the UK music scene, a source of immense pride for communities and a springboard for many artists’ success. Adopting agent of change into existing planning laws is therefore an important step in safeguarding the future of these vital platforms”. 

Warburton says: “Putting the agent of change principle firmly into law is simple common sense. Any new development, whether it’s a residential project near a music venue, or a music venue opening next to properties, should be responsible for the costs of protecting against the noise – because they’re the ones making the change to the environment”.

And Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, stated that: “We are aware of those concerns and we are working with the Department For Communities And Local Government to look at the proposition that has been put forward”. 

The agent of change principle has been trialled and tested in Australia and San Francisco in in the USA, and it is reported that it works both in terms of better planning and better developments but also people thinking about what is already in place before they move. 

By Samuel O’Toole and


And have a look here at a recent article from Miami



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