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Agent of change principle adopted in Scotland

Housing minister Kevin Stewart says venues "should not have to make high cost changes or deal with expensive disputes because of new developments"

By IQ on 19 Feb 2018

Scottish venue owners Andrew Fleming-Brown, Geoff Ellis and Mike Grieve

Geoff Ellis (centre) hails the announcement as a "huge step" towards protecting venues

The agent-of-change principle – which makes developers building near existing businesses, such as music venues, responsible for addressing noise issues – is to be written into Scottish planning policy, following a successful campaign by the British and Scottish live music industries.

The devolved Scottish government will follow Westminster’s lead in including agent of change in the next revision of its national planning framework and Scottish planning policy, setting out guidelines to which it expects planning authorities to adhere.

“The Scottish government recognises the significant cultural and economic contribution of our music industry,” says Scotland’s housing minister, Kevin Stewart MSP. “It is only right we do what we can to protect the established and emerging musical talent and that is why we are embedding the agent of change principle in our planning guidance. I have asked the chief planner to write to all planning authorities asking them to act now.

“Music venues should not have to make high cost changes or deal with expensive disputes because of new developments. Developers will be responsible for identifying and solving any potential issues with noise, giving residents of new homes a better quality of life and allowing our music venues to continue to operate.”

“The news that the agent-of-change principle will be adopted into Scottish planning policy is a huge step in protecting Scotland’s live music scene,” says Geoff Ellis, who was one of several venue owners calling for the agent-of-change principle to be adopted in Scotland. “It removes a crippling threat that loomed over our music venues for too long.”

“It is only right we do what we can to protect established and emerging musical talent”

“We want to thank Kevin Stewart MSP for championing agent of change and striving for it to be implemented immediately. We also want to give special thanks to Scottish music fans for their support in lobbying MSPs to push for this change. They’ve proved, once again, why they’re the best fans in the world.”

“This is a landmark victory for all those who fought so hard to safeguard the future of music venues in Scotland and across the UK, from grassroots community activists to global music stars who have spent years calling for agent of change,” adds Michael Dugher, chief executive of umbrella organisation UK Music. “We are delighted the Scottish government has thrown its support behind our agent of change plan and is toughening the rules to protect grassroots music venues. It’s a tremendous boost for the live music industry.

“Music tourism makes a huge contribution to Scotland, bringing enjoyment to millions and generating £334 million to the local economy. Supporting grassroots venues is key to maintaining the Scotland’s vibrant and diverse music scene, as well as making sure we have the talent pipeline to maintain the our position as a global force in music.

“It’s great that Scottish ministers have listened and responded so positively to UK Music, Music Venue Trust and other industry campaigners, all of whom have worked so hard to make sure grassroots venues get the help and protection they need. Lewis Macdonald MSP deserves particular recognition for the tireless dedication and leadership he has shown to deliver this landmark change in Scotland.”


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