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Delight as Agent of Change adopted in London

Grassroots music venue campaigners delighted at new level of protection.

By IQ on 01 Dec 2017

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

To the delight of grassroots music venue campaigners in the city, London has adopted the Agent of Change principle.

Mayor Sadiq Khan added the directive to the new London Plan – a vital strategic document which sets out a vision for the development of the city. It means property developers have to take into account pre-existing businesses, such as music venues, when applying for planning permission. For example, the developer of new flats has to take responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a existing venue.

“It’s going to give grassroots venues greater confidence”

The move is the culmination of three years of hard campaigning by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) and music industry umbrella organisation UK Music. MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick said: “We’re really pleased. It’s going to give grassroots venues greater confidence because it shows they’re being taken a bit more seriously and that there’s a wish to alleviate some of the pressures they face.

“This sends a signal to other administrations around the UK that this can be done.”

But the campaign doesn’t stop there. The MVT has vowed to continue its fight until the Agent of Change principle is adopted into UK law.

On 10 January 2018, MP John Spellar is expected to introduce a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons calling on the government to make this a nationwide policy. His bill is backed across party lines, by former culture minister Ed Vaizey and the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on music, David Warburton.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley has indicated the government would be willing to support Spellar’s bill, telling him in a recent parliamentary session that her office is already “working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to look at the proposition that has been put forward.”

In Wales, the government has pledged to introduce Agent of Change into future Planning Policy, while in Scotland, Lewis Macdonald MSP has been fighting to bring it into Scottish Planning Law.

“Developers aren’t the only pressure facing grassroots venues,” adds Whitrick. “Business rates, cultural funding and the differences in licensing are some of the other areas we’ll continue to campaign on.”

The Agent of Change principle was adopted in the Australian state of Victoria in 2014, following a campaign by music industry body Music Victoria.


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