Planning to save our live music

UK Music Agent of ChangeI am backing my colleague John Spellar MP’s new Ten Minute Rule Bill, the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill) that aims to protect our music venues and nightlife.

Liverpool is known around the world for its music, nightlife and warm welcome, but live music and entertainment venues are struggling to stay open.

As a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music and a campaigning local MP, this is something I am particularly concerned about.

The government could make a huge change and support this new Bill that would put best practice on a proper legal footing to ensure that new residential developments close to existing venues don’t threaten their survival.

Changes to development rules introduced by the Coalition Government during made it much easier for developers to create residential housing near venues without planning permission or measures to protect residents from noise.

The government then made further changes to the planning regulations that now require developers to seek prior approval about the noise impacts before changing the use of a property from office to residential. This prior approval should allow local authorities to require developers to put in place noise mitigation measures before residents move in. These were welcome changes, but fell far short of what is needed.

One in three grassroots music venues in the UK have closed over the last decade and music venues are struggling to survive. Liverpool hasn’t been immune and while the demise of some of the city’s lost venues have multiple causes, I believe that the government should act to support our heritage and our musical future.

Music makes a huge contribution to the economy. UK Music’s 2017 Wish You Were Here report revealed that that music tourism contributes £4 billion to the economy with over 30 million people attending live events in 2016.

It is, of course, important to achieve the right balance between the needs of entertainment venues and people buying and renting new homes.

John Speller’s Bill would require developers who build residences near established venues to pay for soundproofing and mitigate against other potential problems, making sure new residents are not disturbed, while protecting music venues.