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Government proposes boost to ‘agent of change’ protections for music venues

By | Published on Thursday 9 February 2017

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Government proposals to boost ‘agent of change’ protections to safeguard music venues from new property developments have been welcomed by UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union.

The need for better law in this domain has become more apparent in recent years, as more music venues have been put out of business, or at least at risk of being forced out of business, by new residential developments. The ‘agent of change’ principal puts the responsibility for things such as soundproofing against noise on a developer which is putting new residential properties next door to a venue, rather than on the venue itself.

Perhaps the most high profile dispute in this area in recent years was between the Ministry Of Sound club in London’s Elephant & Castle and property company Oakmayne, which wanted to build a new block of flats opposite the club, leading to concerns that complaints from new residents could impact on the venue’s licence and ability to trade. Following a lengthy legal battle, the club and property firm reached a settlement.

However, the impact of such new property builds can prove more problematic for small venues that cannot afford to fight things through the courts, nor to pay for expensive soundproofing to abate what may be a complaint from one individual.

In proposals announced yesterday, the government said that it would amend the National Planning Policy Framework so to emphasise the consideration of existing venues in planning policies and decisions, in an attempt to avoid future noise complaints.

“UK Music has long argued that grassroots music venues need to be cherished as they are the incubators of music talent”, says UK Music chief exec Jo Dipple. “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 adds: “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”.

Meanwhile, MU Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge comments: “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”.

Read the full government white paper here.



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