'A pivotal moment': Agent of change principle comes into force

'A pivotal moment': Agent of change principle comes into force

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has hailed a "pivotal moment" in the battle to protect small music venues after the agent of change principle came into force. 

Agent of change puts the onus on property developers to put measures in place to allow existing venues to continue to operate and co-exist, such as sound-proofing.

The principle is included in the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). 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.

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."

Dugher has written to the chair of the Local Government Association asking English local authorities to adopt the principle, which came into effect yesterday (July 24). 

“This has been a long fought battle and it is vital that local authorities back it to save live music," he said. "There is now no excuse for local authorities for not stepping in to protect grassroots music venues.”

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 introduced 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. 

Spellar 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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