With huge thanks to our colleagues at UK Music and Musicians’ Union, and a special nod to Jeff Horton at The 100 Club and Auro Foxcroft at Village Underground, we are delighted to announce that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched The London Plan 2018….. and policy D12 will introduce Agent of Change in our Capital City!
This is the culmination of nearly three years of work by Music Venue Trust and our partners to bring proper protection for Grassroots Music Venues to the capital. It has been fought for hard on our behalf by Frank Turner, Save Soho, and a host of others.
Thank you to everyone that signed the petition, that wrote to the Mayor, that fought so hard to protect our Grassroots Music Venues.
The fight doesn’t end there. We need this right across the UK. And we’re not going to stop until we get it.
In Wales, the government has pledged to introduce Agent of Change into future Planning Policy. Read more here.
In Scotland, Lewis Macdonald MSP has been fighting to bring Agent of Change into Scottish Planning Law. Read More here.
We’re talking to the Mayors across the UK to introduce this common sense approach in their cities.
And on 10 January 2018, John Spellar MP will introduce a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons calling on the government to make this a nationwide policy. His bill is backed across party lines, by Ed Vaizey MP and David Warburton MP, chair of the APPG Music. In the lead up to the reading of John’s bill, we will be asking everyone who cares about this issue to join us and finally get this over the line.
No Grassroots Music Venue in the UK should be closing because a new resident moves in next door and complains about the music.
The Mayor of London has taken decisive action to stop this happening. With your help, we can make this the law right throughout the UK.
Excerpts from The London Plan 2018
Policy D12 Agent of Change
A The Agent of Change principle places the responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise-generating activities or uses on the proposed new noise-sensitive development.
B Boroughs should ensure that planning decisions reflect the Agent of Change principle and take account of existing noise-generating uses in a sensitive manner when new development, particularly residential, is proposed nearby.
C Development proposals should manage noise and other potential nuisances by:
1) ensuring good acoustic design to mitigate and minimise existing and potential impacts of noise generated by existing uses located in the area
2) exploring mitigation measures early in the design stage, with necessary and appropriate provisions secured through planning obligations
3) separating new noise-sensitive development where possible from existing noise-generating businesses through distance, screening, internal layout, sound-proofing and insulation, and other acoustic design measures.
D Development should be designed to ensure that established noise- generating venues remain viable and can continue or grow without unreasonable restrictions being placed on them.
E New noise-generating development, such as industrial uses, music venues, pubs, rail infrastructure, schools and sporting venues proposed close to residential and other noise-sensitive development should put in place measures such as soundproofing to mitigate and manage any noise impacts for neighbouring residents and businesses.
F Boroughs should refuse development proposals that have not clearly demonstrated how noise impacts will be mitigated and managed.
3.12.1 For a long time, the responsibility for managing and mitigating the impact of noise on neighbouring residents and businesses has been placed on the business or activity making the noise, regardless of how long the noise-generating business or activity has been operating in the area. In many cases, this has led to newly-arrived residents complaining about noise from existing businesses, sometimes forcing the businesses to close down.
3.12.2 The Agent of Change principle places the responsibility for mitigating the impact of noise firmly on the new development. This means that where new developments are proposed close to existing noise-generating uses, applicants will need to design them in a more sensitive way to protect
the new occupiers, such as new residents, businesses, schools and religious institutions, from noise impacts. This could include paying for soundproofing for the existing noise-generating uses, such as an existing music venue. The Agent of Change principle works both ways. If a new noise-generating use is proposed close to existing noise-sensitive uses, such as residential development or businesses, the onus is on the new use to ensure its building or activity is designed to protect existing users or residents from noise impacts.
3.12.3 The Agent of Change principle is included in the National Planning Policy Framework at paragraph 123 and Planning Practice Guidance provides further information on how to mitigate the adverse impacts of noise32.
3.12.4 Noise-generating cultural venues such as theatres, concert halls, pubs and live music venues should be protected (see Policy HC5 Supporting London’s culture and creative industries. This requires a sensitive approach to managing change in the surrounding area. Adjacent development and land uses should be brought forward and designed
in ways which ensure established cultural venues remain viable and can continue in their present form without the prospect of licensing restrictions or the threat of closure due to noise complaints from neighbours.
3.12.5 Housing and other noise-sensitive development proposed near to an existing noise-generating use should include necessary acoustic design measures. This will ensure new development has effective sound insulation to mitigate and minimise potential noise impact or neighbour amenity issues. Mitigation measures should be explored at an early stage in the design process, with necessary and appropriate provisions secured through planning obligations.
3.12.6 Some permitted development, including change of use from office to residential, requires noise impacts to be taken into consideration by the Local Planning Authority as part of the prior approval process. Boroughs must take account of national planning policy and guidance on noise, and therefore the Agent of Change principle would apply to these applications.
3.12.7 Noise impact assessments accompanying planning applications should be carefully tailored to local circumstances and be fit for purpose. That way, the noise characteristics of existing uses can be properly captured and assessed. For example, cultural venues can have peaks of noise at different times of the day and night and on different days of the week, and boroughs should require a noise impact assessment to take this into consideration. Boroughs should pay close attention to the assumptions made and methods used in noise impact assessments to ensure a full and accurate assessment.
3.12.8 Reference should be made to Policy D13 Noise which considers the impacts of noise-generating activities on a wider scale. Further guidance on managing and mitigating noise in mixed-use development and town centre development is also provided in the Mayor’s London Environment Strategy.
Policy D13 Noise
A In order to reduce, manage and mitigate noise to improve health and quality of life, residential and other non-aviation development proposals should manage noise by:
1) avoiding significant adverse noise impacts on health and quality of life
2) reflecting the Agent of Change principle to ensure measures do not add unduly to the costs and administrative burdens on existing noise- generating uses
3) mitigating and minimising the existing and potential adverse impacts of noise on, from, within, as a result of, or in the vicinity of new development without placing unreasonable restrictions on development
4) improving and enhancing the acoustic environment and promoting appropriate soundscapes (including Quiet Areas and spaces of relative tranquillity)
5) separatingnewnoise-sensitivedevelopmentfrommajornoise sources (such as road, rail, air transport and some types of industrial use) through the use of distance, screening or internal layout – in preference to sole reliance on sound insulation
6) whereitisnotpossibletoachieveseparationofnoise-sensitive development and noise sources without undue impact on other sustainable development objectives, then any potential adverse effects should be controlled and mitigated through applying good acoustic design principles
7) promotingnewtechnologiesandimprovedpracticestoreducenoise at source, and on the transmission path from source to receiver.
B Boroughs, and others with relevant responsibilities, should identify and nominate new Quiet Areas and protect existing Quiet Areas in line with the procedure in Defra’s Noise Action Plan for Agglomerations.
3.13.1 The management of noise is about encouraging the right acoustic environment in the right place at the right time. This is important to promote good health and a good quality of life within the wider context of achieving sustainable development. The management of noise should be an integral part of development proposals and considered as early as possible. Managing noise includes improving and enhancing the acoustic environment and promoting appropriate soundscapes. This can mean allowing some places or certain times to become noisier within reason, whilst others become quieter. Consideration of existing noise sensitivity within an area is important to minimise potential conflicts of uses or activities, for example in relation to internationally important nature conservation sites which contain noise-sensitive species.
3.13.2 The Agent of Change Principle places the responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise-generating activities or uses on the new development. Through the application of this principle existing land uses should not be unduly impacted by the introduction of new noise-sensitive uses.
3.13.3 The management of noise also includes promoting good acoustic design of the inside of buildings. Section 5 of BS 8223:2014 provides guidance on how best to achieve this.
3.13.4 Deliberately introducing sounds can help mitigate the adverse impact
of existing sources of noise, enhance the enjoyment of the public realm, and help protect the relative tranquillity and quietness of places where such features are valued. For example, playing low-level music outside the entrance to nightclubs has been found to reduce noise from queueing patrons, leading to an overall reduction in noise levels. Water features can be used to reduce the traffic noise, replacing it with the sound of falling water, generally found to be more pleasant by most people33.
3.13.5 Heathrow and London City Airport Operators have responsibility for noise action plans for airports. Policy T8 Aviation sets out the Mayor’s approach to aviation-related development.
3.13.6 The definition of Tranquil Areas, Quiet Areas and spaces of relative tranquillity are matters for London boroughs. These are likely to reflect the specific context of individual boroughs, such that Quiet Areas in central London boroughs may reasonably be expected not to be as quiet as Quiet Areas in more residential boroughs. Defra has identified parts of Metropolitan Open Land and local green spaces as potential Quiet Areas that boroughs may wish to designate.