Over the past decade 35% of music venues across the country have closed. UK Music has led the campaign to get the “Agent of Change” principle enshrined in law to protect venues from developers.
UK Music’s plan to save venues was supported by at least 100 MPs and peers including former Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, as well as organisations including the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union.
The campaign attracted cross-party support from politicians and music stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Brian Eno, Chrissie Hynde, Nick Mason, Sandie Shaw, Nadine Shah, Ray Davies, Imogen Heap, Billy Bragg, Feargal Sharkey and Craig David.
UK Music has been campaigning for developers to take account of the impact of any new plans on pre-existing businesses like music venues before going ahead with their plans. That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats takes responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a music venue.
The Government threw its support behind the plan to protect music venues under threat from developers.
At the conclusion of negotiations led by UK Music, ministers promised major changes to the nationwide planning policies that the Government expects planning authorities to legally comply with.
The Government’s promised changes were to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which sets out the Government’s planning policies. The key policy changes will see a crucial addition that will significantly beef up the framework to make it crystal clear that the Agent of Change will protect existing businesses, such as music venues, when areas are being considered for redevelopment.
The Government’s decision came after Labour MP and former Government Minister John Spellar unveiled his Planning (Agent of Change) Bill on January 10 2018 at a mass lobby of Parliament organised by UK Music. The rally attracted massive media attention and was believed to be a turning point in the Government’s decision.
Among the stars who came to the event to show there support were: Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Feargal Sharkey, Sandie Shaw, Nadine Shah, Billy Bragg, Jeremy Pritchard (Everything Everything), The Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock and Tom Gray (Gomez).
Venues that have had to fight closure threats in the past include London’s iconic Ministry of Sound and the 100 Club, Bristol venues, the Thekla, the Fiddlers and the Fleece and more. Campaigners also battled to protect the Womanby Street music quarter in Cardiff from developers.
If closures continue, they will severely impact the music industry’s ability to grow the huge contribution it makes to the UK economy.