24/07/18: UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has written to the Chair of the Local Government Association asking English local authorities to adopt the agent of change principle.
UK Music's Agent of Change lobby outside Parliament on January 10
His letter to Lord Porter of Spalding, which you can read here, coincides with the inclusion of agent of change in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which came into force on July 24.
Local authorities are legally bound to comply with the NPPF, meaning all planning committees must consider the principle when making decisions on applications and in framing their own planning policy.
A growth in demand for property in UK cities has led to increasing rents and landlords deciding to sell property and land to developers.
This has placed rising financial burdens on grassroots music venues, which are often situated in areas that are popular for redevelopment, and makes them vulnerable to a more liberalised planning system.
Smaller grassroots venues are increasingly finding it difficult to operate, and 35% have been forced to close in the last decade.
The agent of change principle would require those responsible for new residential accommodation to put measures in place to allow existing venues to continue to operate and co-exist, such as sound-proofing.
Both the Mayors of London and Bristol are committed to introducing agent of change in their areas, and devolved Governments in Scotland and Wales are also in the process of implementing the principle.
The UK Government committed to introduce agent of change in the NPPF following a concerted campaign by UK Music and the Music Venue Trust in support of a Ten-minute Rule Bill from former minister John Spellar MP.
Commenting, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:
“The introduction of agent of change in the NPPF marks a pivotal moment in the fight to protect under threat music venues. The Government is to be congratulated for taking this decisive step.
“Too often music venues have been the victims of developers. This new law will help ensure music venues can continue to grow audiences and develop talent, contributing significantly to our £1 billion live music industry.
“This has been a long fought battle and it is vital that local authorities back it to save live music.
“There is now no excuse for local authorities for not stepping in to protect grassroots music venues.”
John Spellar MP said:
“I am delighted that the Government has listened to concerns expressed by MPs and the music industry about the fate of music venues across the country, and has fulfilled its commitment to introduce the agent of change principle in the new National Planning Policy Framework by summer recess.
“This is great news for musicians and music lovers whose voice has been loud and has now been heard. Local authorities must now make use of these vital tools to support our world leading music creativity throughout our towns, cities and communities.”
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