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Covid-19: Government seeks to protect theatres from demolition

Words: Laura Edgar
Theatre / iStock-957023720

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced changes to the planning system aimed at protecting theatres, concert halls and live music venues from redevelopment and demolition. 

From next week, councils will need to take the temporary impact of Covid-19 into account when considering permission for change of use, redevelopment or demolition of a theatre, concert hall or live music venues. Social distancing should “not be an excuse for them [performance venues] to be permanently lost".

Jenrick is set to issue a written ministerial statement, setting out changes which will have immediate effect on the planning system. 

Alongside a £1.57 billion investment announced last week (5 July), the measure is intended to provide “extra security” to businesses as they re-open following the lockdown. 

Jenrick said: “Our theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues are the envy of the world and are central to our cultural heritage. It is vital they are properly protected by the planning system for both people today to enjoy and future generations.”

Jon Morgan, director of the Theatres Trust, commented: “We welcome the news of revisions to the planning system, which reinforce and increase protections for our treasured theatres and provide reassurance for the communities that use and value them.

“The Covid-19 lockdown has rendered otherwise vibrant theatres vulnerable to permanent closure and we have already seen a number of theatres fall vacant due to the operator going into liquidation. These measures will help ensure these vital community assets are protected during the current crisis and can be revived to serve their local communities once again.”

This policy change will remain in place until 31 December 2022.

Image credit | iStock