The closure of live music and entertainment venues is bringing considerable economic and cultural damage to the UK. As a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, this is something I am particularly concerned about.
The Nightlife Matters campaign aims to protect and celebrate the UK’s nightlife, and highlights the challenges facing our night time industries. It is, of course, important to achieve the right balance between the needs of entertainment venues and the impact they can have in terms of noise and other disruptions on local residents.
Changes to permitted development rights, introduced by the Coalition Government during the last Parliament, made it much easier for developers to create residential housing near venues without planning permission or measures to protect residents from noise.
I support the need to incorporate the Agent of Change principle into planning law, which would require developers who build residences near established venues to pay for soundproofing and mitigate against other potential problems. The Opposition tabled amendments which would have implemented this principle to the Housing and Planning Bill as it was going through Parliament but, unfortunately, the government took the view that some elements of this principle already exist in our planning law and rejected the amendments.
In April last year, the government did make changes to the planning regulations to provide some protection to music venues. Developers are now required to seek prior approval about the noise impacts on new residents before changing the use of a property from office to residential building. This prior approval will allow local authorities to require developers to put in place noise mitigation measures before residents move in. These are welcome changes, although they fall far short of the full agent of change principle.
The government should listen to the concerns that have been raised about the challenges facing our night time industries and respond to the issues raised by the Nightlife Matters campaign.