Culture secretary Karen Bradley has hinted the Government is actively considering enshrining the "agent of change" principle in law to protect music venues, as Westminster support for the move continues to grow.
Agent of change would require a developer to take account of pre-existing businesses like music venues before proceeding with a project, potentially safeguarding the future of hundreds of venues.
Backed by UK Music, former government minister and Labour MP John Spellar is leading the campaign in parliament to get the proposed new law on to the statute book, and former culture minister Ed Vaizey MP and All-Party Parliamentary Group on music chair David Warburton MP have now also declared their endorsement.
Spellar, who will table his proposed new law next month with a debate in the House of Commons early next year, said in a question to the culture secretary: “In order to progress their careers, creative artists need lots of work opportunities. For musicians, that means venues, many of which are now being closed. Will the Secretary Of State give serious consideration to embedding the agent of change principle into legislation, as I hope to propose in a 10-minute rule Bill in the near future?”
In response, Bradley replied: “We are aware of those concerns and we are working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to look at the proposition that has been put forward.”
At present, agent of change is already included in planning guidance in England, but can be easily ignored because it is not compulsory.
Vaizey said: “In order for our creative industries to continue to flourish, it is essential that we do all we can to protect our country’s brilliant grassroots venues. These venues are the lifeblood of the UK music scene, a source of immense pride for communities and a springboard for many artists’ success. Adopting agent of change into existing planning laws is therefore an important step in safeguarding the future of these vital platforms.”
Warburton added: "Putting the agent of change principle firmly into law is simple common sense. Any new development, whether it's a residential project near a music venue, or a music venue opening next to properties should be responsible for the costs of protecting against the noise - because they're the ones making the change to the environment.
"It's crazy that you can build right next door to a music venue and then demand they pay for the soundproofing you need. A huge number of popular venues are facing closure because the law just isn't working fairly - so it's now time to make a change and stand up for common sense."