Government backs 'agent of change' rollout

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cultural and economic assets: the Government has pledged to help protect Britain's music venues
Cultural and economic assets: the Government has pledged to help protect Britain's music venues
The pub industry has reacted positively to the news that an agent-of-change principle, protecting the UK’s live music venues from property developers, has received Government backing and will be written into planning law.

The bill was originally introduced by Labour MP John Spellar – the parliamentary representative for Warley – on 10 January.

In line with the agent-of-change principle that the person or business responsible for a change is then responsible for managing the impact of said change, Spellar proposed that if property developers looking to build near a live music venue harboured concerns about noise then they should be the ones to pay for any insulation or noise mitigation measures.

The National Planning Policy Framework, which local authorities are legally bound to comply with, will now be clarified to include detailed reference to the agent-of-change principle and will be consulted on in spring.

The news means that developers will be responsible for identifying and solving any sound problems if granted permission to build.

Removing an unfair burden

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Music venues play a vital role in our communities, bringing people together and contributing to the local economy and supporting the country’s grassroots music culture.

“I have always thought it unfair that the burden is on long-standing music venues to solve noise issues when property developers choose to build nearby.

“That’s why I consulted on this in February last year as part of the housing white paper. I am pleased to finally have an opportunity to right this wrong and also give more peace of mind to new residents moving into local properties."

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher added: “We are delighted the Government is supporting [the] agent-of-change [principle] and strengthening the rules to protect grassroots music venues. This is excellent news for the live music industry.

“Music makes a huge contribution to our country, bringing enjoyment to millions and contributing £4.4bn to our economy. Supporting grassroots venues is key to maintaining the UK’s vibrant and diverse music scene, as well as ensuring we have the talent pipeline to maintain Britain’s position as a global force in music."

"Pragmatic and positive step"

The news of clarification to the National Planning Policy Framework and a consultation on the agent-of-change principle has been given a positive response from the pub industry.

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We’re glad to see that the Government has taken the pragmatic and positive step to introduce the agent-of-change principle.

“It is clearly unfair that venues are required to solve noise issues when property developers have knowingly chosen to build nearby.

“The ALMR has been urging MPs to recognise for some time that without such a change, many long-standing established venues could have been driven out of business, severely damaging the UK’s night-time economy.

“Music has always played a big part in British culture, so we’re happy that the Government has started on a road to protect such cultural and economic assets.”

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: "I welcome the Government’s commitment to the agent-of-change principle.

“It is something the BBPA has long called for. It must be right that developers take responsibility for soundproofing when they build new housing next to existing pubs that have been trading for hundreds of years.”

British Institute of Innkeeping spokeswoman Molly Davis said: “We at the BII fully support the #agentofchange movement.

“It is a positive decision that will ensure all of our members who host live musicians will not be penalised where developers have built around their venues.”

Related topics: Legislation

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