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Industry celebrates UK government action on venue protection

It's not quite agent of change, but new legislation marks "a step-change in planning law", says UK Music

By IQ on 14 Mar 2016

Ed Vaizey, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

British culture minister Ed Vaizey

image © Department for Culture, Media and Sport

UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union have issued a joint statement welcoming new government legislation to protect Britain’s music venues.

The result of meeting between the organisations, culture minister Ed Vaizey and ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government, The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 will require developers to “seek prior approval on noise impacts before a change of use from an office to residential building can be carried out”, effectively protecting existing music venues by encouraging local authorities to make it the responsibility of developers, not venues, to put in place noise-control measures on any new residential development.

The new regulations come into force on 6 April.

While UK Music clarifies that the new rules don’t constitute the introduction of an agent-of-change principle, they do “mark a step-change in planning law”.

“This is a major victory for the UK’s music venues and music fans. The fight to protect, secure and improve them goes on”

Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust, comments: “We warmly welcome this breakthrough for the UK’s grassroots music venues. This common-sense move by the government provides an opportunity for local authorities to use their powers to ensure that live music continues to play a vital economic, cultural and social role in our towns and cities.

“For music venues this has never been about stopping development or preventing the creation of much-needed new housing; it’s always been about ensuring that new development recognises the culture, economy and vibrancy of city centres by building great housing, enabling existing music venues and new residents to live in harmony. This is a major victory for the UK’s music venues and music fans. The fight to protect, secure and improve them goes on.

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music, adds: “Ministers Ed Vaizey, Brandon Lewis and James Wharton deserve sincere thanks for taking up our cause and offering to act on industry concerns. There are times when it seems government does not listen. When it does, and when it acts on what it hears, we should be proud of our political masters. The Music Venue Trust has done an amazing job to raise awareness and push this issue to the top of the governmental ‘in tray’. If these new regulations have the desired effect, grassroots venues around the UK will have additional powers to help them survive and prosper.”

Horace Trubridge, assistant general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, says: “We are delighted to see that the Government has responded to our calls for action to protect grassroots live music venues. Hopefully, this will ensure a brighter future for this vital resource.”