In the first twelve months The Music Venue Trust has:
- Changed the National Planning Framework
- Fought off seven legal/planning cases
- Organised the first national meeting of Music Venues
- Created a report that is being presented in Parliament and will directly Call for Action
We are sending a message, loud and clear, to the Music Industry, the cultural sector and to the Government, that UK Music Venues are essential to our culture and must be legislatively and financially supported in a way that reflects their real value to artists, audiences and communities.
Sign The Petition to adopt ‘Agent of Change’ principle into UK Law
Frank Turner’s letter to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid MP
Thursday 11 September 2014
Dear Mr Javid
This is a call for you, the Culture Secretary, to act urgently to protect live music and other community activities in the UK. We want you to adopt the Agent of Change principle into UK law.
Since 2010, your government has changed the planning laws in a number of ways to achieve the aim of generating economic growth and addressing the housing shortage. Specifically, you have made amendments that permit changes of use to residential use without requiring planning permission. Offices, car parks and disused buildings across the country can be converted to residences. And right next door to those offices and car parks are the UK’s music venues – a vital network that is the cornerstone of the UK music industry.
These venues are where I grew up, where I learned about rock’n’roll music, where I saw all my favourite bands. The venues where I played my first shows and some of my most recent, the home of the music scene that has given me my career, my passion and my life.
They are there on purpose, many of them, because they chose those locations deliberately so that the music wouldn’t ever be a ‘nuisance’. The developers have no legal obligation to soundproof these new residences; at the moment UK law says the business or person making the noise is making the nuisance, and they must manage it. Good councils across the country are trying to put conditions on the new builds, but developers have deep pockets. Faced with a mountain of litigation, many councils will have no option other than to permit the developments to proceed and let the venues deal with the consequences.
Across the country we are already seeing the results. Music venues are fighting off noise complaints, abatement notices and planning applications; 12 venues are already under threat, an avalanche will follow if we don’t take action. You, as the Culture Secretary, are genuinely facing a meltdown in the British live music circuit. And it won’t end with music venues.
Church bells, Sports grounds, Pubs, Arts Centres, Theatres, any place that makes a noise is under threat.
And yet a solution is simple, and it’s called the Agent of Change principle.
Under the Agent of Change principle, an apartment block to be built near an established live music venue would have to pay for soundproofing, while a live music venue opening in a residential area would be responsible for the costs. A resident who moves next door to a music venue would, in law, be assessed as having made that decision understanding that there’s going to be some music noise, and a music venue that buys a new PA would be expected to carry out tests to make sure its noise emissions don’t increase. Agent of Change says the person or business responsible for the change is responsible for managing the impact of the change.
Agent of Change is so obvious and common sense that most people are amazed it isn’t already part of UK law. In Australia it’s already being adopted, and the outcome is improved planning; venues working alongside their communities to manage their noise when it changes, developers making better residences that are fit for purpose.
Everyone’s a winner.
We demand that you work with the Music Venue Trust and the UK’s incredible network of live music venues.
The Musician’s Union, The Music Industries Association, UK Music all support it.
Let’s act together, right now, to adopt and enforce Agent of Change.
This petition is a collaboration between Frank Turner and Music Venue Trust, and is supported by Musicians’ Union, Music Industries Association, UK Music and many other music industry bodies.
“The MU urges Government to adopt the ‘Agent of Change’ principle, it is vital to the long term survival of live music venues across the country that the law is changed. The current situation where these valuable cultural centres are vulnerable to closure simply because of an adjacent building being converted to accommodation is unacceptable. The MU encourages the public to support this campaign and urges Government to take action to protect live music venues.”
“The Music Industries Association (MIA) is in total support of the campaign to implement Agent of Change legislation. Music venues, especially smaller ones, are the lifeblood of musical communities and as the UK musical instrument trade body we welcome the Music Venue Trust initiative and offer all possible help.”
“Grassroots live music is the foundation for our music industry. This foundation is supported by small and iconic venues throughout our towns and cities. The Government has a strong record on entertainment deregulation, yet potential benefits are challenged by worrying developments caused by planning laws. The Government should introduce the agent of change principle into UK law. This would be a proportionate and common sense approach and would be welcomed by the UK music industry.”
What is ‘Agent of Change’… and why is it important?
Music venues are in the frontline of the impact of our current laws, with an avalanche of cases potentially closing down music across the UK. But these are not the only community activities under attack. Complaints have been made against church bells, a new development next to a speedway race track where the residents don’t like the sound of the bikes, the brand new build next to a farm where the sheep are now, according to British law, too loud and a nuisance. Community activities and cultural activities across the UK are under threat – music venues are just the first affected.
Agent of Change has been trialled and tested in Australia and it works; better planning, better developments, people thinking about what exists where they want to live and how they will live with it, music venues and others thinking more about their neighbours.
It’s our music, let’s all work together to bring Agent of Change to the UK.