Department for Culture Media and Sport

Government moves to protect live music venues

The British government is introducing new legislation giving local authorities the powers to better protect live music venues against redevelopment pressures.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 14 Mar 2016
  • min read
The British government is introducing new legislation giving local authorities the powers to better protect live music venues against redevelopment pressures.

The new regulations, which come into effect on 6 April 2016, mean developers are now required to seek prior approval on noise impacts before changing the use of a site from offices to residential dwellings.

Recent development right extensions, which have allowed premises to change from commercial buildings to residential ones, have put pressure on music venues by making them prone to noise complaints from residents once they move into the area.

UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union have welcomed the government’s move.

In a letter to UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple, culture minister Ed Vaizey MP - together with ministers at the department for communities and local government - suggests that the new regulations will encourage local authorities to require applicants to put in place noise mitigation measures where appropriate.

He also outlines other steps government intends to take, including notifying chief planning officers of the change to permitted development rights and re-emphasising updated planning guidance on noise that highlights the potential of new residential developments on live music venues.

While the legislation does not constitute the introduction of an Agent of Change principle, it does mark a step-change in planning law.

In London alone, 35 percent of grassroots music venues have closed in the past eight years.

Munira Mirza, the deputy mayor for London, recently acknowledged the scale of the issue, telling a PRS for Music Foundation event that the capital’s growth was putting enormous pressure on its cultural infrastructure - leaving its composers and artists with a shortage of suitable venues to rehearse and perform.

Outside the capital, UK Music’s Bristol live music census published earlier this month found that 50 percent of the city’s music venues were affected by development, noise or planning issues.

These issues pose a direct threat to the future of Bristol’s vibrant ecosystem which generated £123 towards the local economy in 2015 and supported 927 (full time equivalent) jobs.

The UK live music sector as a whole contributed almost a billion pounds in Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2014 and employs over 25,000 people across the country.

Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust chief executive, said:We warmly welcome this breakthrough for the UK's grassroots music venues. This common sense move by the government provides an opportunity for local authorities to use their powers to ensure that live music continues to play a vital economic, cultural and social role in our towns and cities.

‘For music venues, this has never been about stopping development or preventing the creation of much needed new housing; it's always been about ensuring that new development recognises the culture, economy and vibrancy of city centres by building great housing, enabling existing music venues and new residents to live in harmony. This is a major victory for the UK's music venues and music fans. The fight to protect, secure and improve them goes on.’

Jo Dipple, UK Music chief executive, added: ‘Ministers Ed Vaizey, Brandon Lewis and James Wharton deserve sincere thanks for taking up our cause and offering to act on industry concerns. There are times when it seems government does not listen. When it does, and when it acts on what it hears, we should be proud of our political masters.

‘The Music Venue Trust has done an amazing job to raise awareness and push this issue to the top of the governmental “in tray”. If these new regulations have the desired effect, grassroots venues around the UK will have additional powers to help them survive and prosper.’

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 was presented to parliament on 11 March 2016 and will come into effect from the 6 April 2016.

The new regulations can be found here: