Introduce agent-of-change principle to ‘balance’ Licensing Act, say Lords

By Liam Coleman

- Last updated on GMT

Campaign: MA has previously called for the introduction of the agent-of-change principle
Campaign: MA has previously called for the introduction of the agent-of-change principle
Proposals to change the Licensing Act have called for the inclusion of an agent-of-change principle to make licensing laws fairer for businesses and residents.

In its report, published earlier this week, the House of Lord’s committee called for the introduction of the principle as part of its recommendation for the overhaul​ the 2003 Licensing Act.

The principle means that a person or business that causes a change in the local environment is responsible for managing its impact. This would mean, for example, that if a venue is in place before a residential building, the people in charge of the residential building would be responsible for paying for soundproofing; likewise, if a new venue opens in a residential area, the venue developers or owners would be responsible for the cost. It is currently in use in cities in both Australia and Canada.

Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks urged​ the Lords to recommend the principle when he gave evidence to the committee.

“Whoever was there first matters. It is then up to the other to fit in with what was there first. I can’t think of a fairer system,” he told the committee.

Clear guidance needed

Following the report’s publication, Baroness McIntosh told The Morning Advertiser​ (MA​) that the committee chose to recommend the principle because it was a fair way to establish a balance between businesses and residents.

“It is a policy that could potentially be of great benefit, but it needs clear guidance for local authorities,” she added.

Redressing the balance

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have both backed the Lords’ recommendation.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Where you have pubs that have been at the heart of their communities for decades, it has always been unfair for them to face unreasonable complaints from residents in new-build flats and houses nearby.

“An agent-of-change principle, in both planning and licensing guidance, would redress the balance and place the onus on the developer to ensure that new builds don’t disrupt established pubs and other businesses.”

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls added that the principle if adopted would “provide support to dynamic live music and late-night venues that form a vibrant part of the wider hospitality sector”.

Like all of the recommendations in the Lords’ report, they will now be considered by the Home Office before being debated in the House of Lords.

MA​ has previously campaigned for the introduction of an-agent-of change principle via its Make Some Noise​ campaign.

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