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Cross-party support grows for agent of change in UK

Parliamentary support is mounting for a new law in the UK to protect music venues, with two influential MPs – former culture minister Ed Vaizey and the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on music, David Warburton – now having endorsed the proposal.

Industry umbrella group UK Music is spearheading the campaign to have the agent-of-change principle, which would force property developers to take into account the impact of any new scheme on preexisting businesses, such as music venues, before going ahead with their plans, enshrined in law. That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats taking responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a existing venue.

The proposals are being brought forward at Westminster by Labour MP and former government minister John Spellar, who announced his support for the proposed legislation at Venues Day last month.

As of last May, agent of change is already included in planning guidance in England, but is not compulsory. The proposed new law would place a burden on the developer to ensure solutions are in place to mitigate the potential impact of their scheme on existing businesses across the entire United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“It’s now time to make a change and stand up for common sense”

He will table his proposed new law next month, with a debate in the House of Commons to follow early next year. 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.”

Announcing his support, Vaizey comments: “In order for our creative industries to continue to flourish, it is essential that we do all we can to protect our country’s brilliant grassroots venues. These venues are the lifeblood of the UK music scene, a source of immense pride for communities and a springboard for many artists’ success. Adopting agent of change into existing planning laws is therefore an important step in safeguarding the future of these vital platforms.”

Warburton, a former composer, adds: “Putting the agent-of-change principle firmly into law is simple common sense. Any new development, whether it’s a residential project near a music venue or a music venue opening next to properties, should be responsible for the costs of protecting against the noise – because they’re the ones making the change to the environment.

“It’s crazy that you can build right next door to a music venue and then demand they pay for the soundproofing you need. A huge number of popular venues are facing closure because the law just isn’t working fairly – so it’s now time to make a change and stand up for common sense.”


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