UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher today (Oct 17) unveiled plans for a new law to protect music venues threatened with closure.
The proposed crackdown would force developers to consider the impact their schemes could have on nearby music venues and take steps to ensure their continued survival.
Unveiling the planned new legislation in a speech at Venues Day at London’s Ministry of Sound, Mr Dugher said the proposals would help stem the tide of music venue closures across the UK.
Mr Dugher said UK Music’s radical plan to enshrine the “agent of change” principle in law could transform the future of Britain’s music scene by safeguarding the future of hundreds of venues for decades to come.
Agent of change would require a developer to take account of pre-existing businesses like music venues before proceeding with a project.
The new law would place a burden on the developer to make sure that solutions are in place to mitigate the potential impact of their scheme on existing businesses.
For example, to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about the noise from a music venue, the developers could be told to fund the cost of extra soundproofing for the music venue.
At present, agent of change is already included in planning guidance in England. But it can be easily ignored because it is not compulsory in England, Scotland or Wales.
Across the UK, an estimated 35% of grassroots music venues closed down between 2007 and 2015. In London alone, the capital has lost over a third of its grassroots music venues in the last 10 years.
Former Government Minister and Labour MP John Spellar will spearhead UK Music’s campaign in Parliament to get the proposed new law on to the statute book.
Mr Spellar will outline the measures in a backbench Bill – called a Ten Minute Rule Bill – later this year and hopes to win Government support for the legislation.
According to UK Music’s latest figures, 30.9 million people attended live music events in the UK in 2016, contributing towards the £4 billion generated by music tourism in the UK last year.
Commenting, Michael Dugher said: “Enshrining agent of change in law would be a critical weapon to help music venues across the UK in their fight for survival.
“The threat from developers, along with soaring business rates and licensing regulations, could prove a lethal cocktail for many venues unless we work together to help them survive and thrive.
“In particular, these are challenging times for small and grassroots venues which play a crucial role in nurturing new talent and helping artists get their big break.
“I hope everyone will join UK Music in our battle to get agent of change on to the statue book so we can ensure the continued vibrancy and diversity of our fantastic music venues.”
Commenting, John Spellar said: “I’m delighted to be working with UK Music to win support for the agent of change principle.
“More than 30 million people attended live music events last year at venues across the UK. The live music industry makes a major contribution to both our economy, employment and our culture. It must be safeguarded.”