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Agent of change bill for music venues proceeds to second reading

Words: Laura Edgar
Live music / iStock_000051573308

The House of Commons has given its approval to the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill, which would require property developers to take account of pre-existing businesses, such as music venues, before moving forward with a project.

The proposed legislation is supported by a number of people in the music industry, including Sir Paul McCartney, who told Sky that without pubs and music venues, his “career could have been very different”.

“If we don't support music at this level, then the future of music in general is in danger,” he added.

John Spellar MP moved the bill in the House of Commons, saying the bill is “designed to protect existing music venues from closure or crippling costs arising from the new development of new residential properties in their vicinity, especially over questions of noise”.

He noted that the Music Venues Trust and UK Music estimate that one third of all music venues have been lost in the past decade, and that the conversion of empty properties or former commercial buildings into residential properties is part of the regeneration of towns and inner cities.

However, Spellar said this can sometimes lead to the loss of what makes parts of those areas attractive in the first place, particularly to younger residents.

The bill, which will enshrine the agent of change into planning law, aims to give “much greater clarity and power for local councils and the planning inspectors to incorporate this principle into planning decisions”.

Khan has said he will be introducing an agent of change principle in his London Plan, while Wales has already introduced the agent of change principle into planning law.

Shain Shapiro, CEO of Sound Diplomacy, said to The Planner: "It's a terrific achievement to have made it through the first reading of the private members bill to introduce agent of change. It's been proven that the UK would benefit from this legislation. It will protect cultural venues and spaces, create more synergies with developers and the creative community and address issues before they become problems and cause further strain on the planning system.  I'm hoping it will pass and become law and if it does, the UK will become a global leader in this regard.”

The bill was also brought by Kevin Brennan, Sir Greg Knight, Pete Wishart, Jo Stevens, Ed Vaizey, Kerry McCarthy, David Warburton, Connor McGinn, Nigel Evans and Thangam Debbonaire.

A second reading of the bill will take place on Friday 19 January.

Image credit | iStock