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Protection for Scottish music venues

Words: Laura Edgar
Live music venues / iStock: 502131877

Scottish planning policy is to be updated so that developers building new residential schemes will be responsible for ensuring that local people are not disturbed by noise.

Fresh guidance on the Agent of Change principle will be included in the new version of the National Planning Framework, said the Scottish Government.

Local authorities have been asked to implement the principle immediately.

In May last year, Welsh energy, planning and rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths announced that Wales’s national planning policy would be revised to support live music venues. The latest iteration of Planning Policy Wales, which was published last week (12 February), also introduces the Agent of Change principle.

In England, a Planning (Agent of Change) Bill has been introduced to Parliament, with a second reading scheduled for 16 March.

Housing secretary Sajid Javid announced in January that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) would be clarified to include to specific mention of the Agent of Change principle. A draft of the revised NPPF is due to be published “before Easter”.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said the Scottish Government recognises the “significant” cultural and economic contribution of the music industry.

“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.”

Beverley Whitrick, strategic director at Music Venue Trust, welcomed the introduction of the Agent of Change to Scottish planning policy.

“Ministers have listened to the case and taken on board the fact that grassroots music venues need protection and recognition for their contribution to our towns and cities. This is an important issue and will certainly help venues, but it is not the only challenge they face. We look forward to working further with the Scottish Government to ensure the long-term sustainability of venues across Scotland."

Kate Houghton MRTPI, planning policy and practice officer at RTPI Scotland, told The Planner: “It is great to see the Scottish Government taking action to protect town centre uses like live music venues that can be such an important part of a place’s personality and culture.

However, she cautioned that it will be important to ensure that introducing the Agent of Change principle into Scottish Planning Policy will not have unintended consequences.

“RTPI Scotland would not want to see the new approach act as a disincentive to new residential development in town centres. There is evidence from across Scotland that the town centre first principle, along with initiatives such as Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes, has supported a revival in town centre living, with wide ranging economic, environmental and social benefits. It will be important for the impact of the introduction of the Agent of Change principle to be monitored, to ensure that it is not placing an extra cost on town centre development. Such a cost could discourage developer interest in bringing forward what can be complex town centre sites."

Read more:

Griffiths to update planning policy to support music venues

Agent of change bill for music venues proceeds to second reading

Javid: Planning system to protect music venues

Image credit | iStock