Agent for Change and Future Planning

music imageThose constructing new housing near existing music venues will be responsible to future residents that they will suffer no issues with excessive noise and disturbance. Similarly if a new music venue is opened in close proximity to housing then the responsibility for ensuring residents suffer no issue with noise must be borne by the music venue.

A Planning Bill is progressing through the Scottish Parliament and local authorities are expected to enforce the new guidance on ‘Agents of Change’ immediately.

In a statement to Parliament Kevin Stewart,  Minister for Local Government and Housing said:

“I am attracted by the prospect of embedding the Agent of Change principle into our planning system so that we can protect the established and emerging talent in our music industry. Our live music venues should not become financially disadvantaged or have their viability threatened as a result of new development in their vicinity.”

A letter from Scotland’s Chief Planner has been sent to all planning authorities highlighting existing guidance on noise issues and asking them to ensure decisions reflect the Agent of Change principle. Agent of Change planner letter

“The Agent of Change principle clearly places the responsibility for mitigating any detrimental impact of noise on neighbours with those carrying out the new development or operations.

“So for example, where a new residential property is to be developed within the vicinity of an existing music venue, the responsibility for mitigating adverse effects should sit with the housing developer, as the ‘agent of change’.

“Conversely, if a new music venue is proposed, or an existing venue is to be extended, that responsibility would be with the venue operator.”

The letter from John McNairney Chief Planner goes on to say:

” I would ask that you ensure issues around the potential impact of noise from live music venues are always appropriately assessed and addressed when considering proposals either by venues themselves or for development in their vicinity, and that decisions reflect the Agent of Change principle.”

Kevin Stewart said:

Kevin Stewart

““Music venues should not have to make high cost changes or deal with expensive disputes because of new developments.  Developers will be responsible for identifying and solving any potential issues with noise, giving residents of new homes a better quality of life and allowing our music venues to continue to operate.”

The new guidance has been welcomed by the Music Venues Trust ,whose spokesperson Beverley Whitrick  said:

“Ministers have listened to the case and taken on board the fact that grassroots music venues need protection and recognition for their contribution to our towns and cities. This is an important issue and will certainly help venues, but it is not the only challenge they face. We look forward to working further with Scottish Government to ensure the long-term sustainability of venues across Scotland.”

Watch: Michael Dugher, CEO, UK Music on Agent for Change

Related story: Planning for the Future

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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