Legal: agent-of-change principle could hit the right note

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Significant change: Poppleston Allen looks at the agent-of-change principle
Significant change: Poppleston Allen looks at the agent-of-change principle
There have been numerous press reports over the years regarding the closure of live music venues and the impact upon not only local communities, but also the British music industry itself.

There are various reasons that have been put forward for this, one of them being the residential development of surrounding areas impacting upon the ability of music venues to operate.

A number of organisations, including the Music Venue Trust and UK Music, have been pushing for the Government to build the ‘agent-of-change’ principle into the planning system. Put simply, the principle is that the person who is responsible for the change is responsible for managing the impact of the change. In practical terms, for music venues, theonus would be upon property developers to take into account existing music venues in an area of a proposed development and mitigate any potential noise issues should they be given permission to build.

On 10 January 2018, the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill, which is a private members’ bill, had its first reading in theHouse of Commons.

In his speech to Parliament Rt Hon John Spellar MP said that the bill was “designed to protect existing music venues from closure or crippling costs arising from development of new residential properties in their vicinity, especially over questions of noise… ”

Significant change

The second reading was due to take place later in January, however, this has been pushed back until March. On 18 January, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Sajiv Javid, announced that the national planning policy framework (NPPF) is to be clarified with a detailed reference to the agent-of-change principle to be included. This change will be significant as local authorities must comply with the NPPF and have regard to it withintheir planning policies and decision making.

Consultation on the proposed changes to the NPPF is expected to begin in the spring of this year.

How will this tie in with the Licensing Act 2003? In late 2017, the Government responded to the House of Lords select committee report on the Licensing Act 2003. The Government confirmed in its response that it “will ensure thesection 182 guidance remains consistent with the national planning policy framework, if changes are made”.

It remains to be seen how this will be interpreted within the guidance and how this will then work in practice.Theoretically, if the NPPF is implemented correctly, there should not be any problems regarding noise for new residential developments located near long-standing music venues. However, should issues occur, it will be interesting to see how local authorities look to resolve them.

Related topics: Legislation

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