The Nightlife Matters campaign to promote British nightlife highlights the importance of live music and entertainment to the richness of cultural life in the UK as well as its significant contribution to the UK economy.
The previous Labour government passed the Licensing Act 2003, which was followed in 2005 by further changes to licensing laws which allowed for more flexible opening by enabling premises to apply for a licence to stay open later.
Concerns are now being raised by organisations such as the Night Time Industries Association about the challenges currently being faced. There have been cases where long-established venues have closed following complaints received from residents in new developments that are built nearby. Changes to permitted development rights, introduced by the Coalition Government during the last Parliament, have made it much easier for businesses with high levels of noise to bypass planning permission.
While it is important to strike a careful balance between the needs of entertainment venues and the adverse effects that can come from noise, we do need to recognise that music and entertainment venues play a key role in the success of the UK creative industries. I support the Agent of Change principle and while the Housing and Planning Act 2016 was making its way through Parliament, my Shadow Frontbench colleagues tabled amendments which would have implemented the Agent of Change principle. Unfortunately, the government took the view that some elements of this principle already exist in our planning law and rejected these amendments.
The government recently changed the planning regulations to provide some protection to music venues. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 came into force on April 6 2016. Developers are now required to seek prior approval on noise impacts before a change of use for a property from an office to residential building can be carried out. In addition, local authorities now have to take into account the existence of an already established venue, generating a certain amount of noise, when development applications are lodged.
It is very important that local communities are empowered to make decisions about their local area. At the last General Election, I stood on a manifesto which included a commitment to give local communities more power to shape their high streets and local areas, and preserve their local identities.
The government should listen to the concerns that have been raised by the Nightlife Matters campaign and respond to the proposals put forward in its manifesto.