Live music venues including pubs, theatres, music and concert halls under threat from outdated noise restrictions could be protected under a proposed law change, which has the backing of councils.
The Local Government Association has joined a cross-party campaign – including the Liberal Democrats – which will see a person or business responsible for a change in noise conditions being held responsible for managing that change.
This means, for example, that the builder of an apartment block built near an established live music venue would have to pay for soundproofing that apartment block, while a live venue opening in a residential area would be responsible for the costs of soundproofing the venue.
Under the proposed change, anybody who chooses to move next door to a music venue would be assessed as having made that decision understanding there is going to be some music noise. Equally, a music venue which buys a new public address system would also be expected to carry out tests to ensure its noise emissions don’t increase.
As it stands, the law states that somebody can move next door to a live music venue and ask for it to be quieter or restricted, regardless of how long it has existed or if there is any previous history of the same noise being a nuisance. The costs then have to be borne by the venue.
The proposals are outlined in a Private Members’ Bill due to be introduced on Wednesday (January 10) and has cross-party backing from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Music.
Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson, the Lib Dem Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Our live music venues are part of the cultural lifeblood of communities, but sadly the increase in demand for housing in town centres is bringing some residents into conflict with them.
“It cannot be right that someone can knowingly move next door to such a venue and then decide afterwards that the music is a nuisance, in the same way that it is not right for a venue to install a speaker system without consideration for nearby residents. Instead this proposal provides a common-sense solution which strikes a balance between the obligations of developers and protecting the vital live music scene in our towns and cities across the country.
“This Bill offers a much-needed update which has already drawn widespread support across the political spectrum, and we look forward to seeing its progress through Parliament.”
Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat Media and Culture Spokesperson added: “Britain has a long, proud history of live music. From the Beatles, to Ed Sheeran, music has been the heartbeat of British culture.
“We need to protect our existing live venues and encourage the next generation of young musicians to flourish. The ideals of this Bill are a step in the right direction.
“The Conservatives must show their commitment to culture and endorse the aims and objectives put forward in this Bill.”
The Agent of Change campaign was first launched by the Music Venue Trust three years ago and is also supported by music industry body UK Music, as well as fans, artists and other organisations. Karen Bradley, Culture Secretary, has indicated that the Government would support the Bill, and that her department is working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to look at what has been put forward.
The Greater London Authority has also adopted the Agent of Change principle in the draft London Plan, which the LGA says should be rolled out nationally.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Agent of Change campaign: http://musicvenuetrust.com/2017/12/agent-change-now/
- Draft New London Plan, Agent of Change Principle: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan/draft-new-london-plan/chapter-3-design/policy-d12-agent-change