Words by Sam Taylor
Small Venues, they’re one of the most important things to a small band looking to build a following, get experience and improve and an industry worth £662 million in 2015. Despite this importance the outlook for small venues has been pretty bleak with 35% of small venues across London alone shutting down in the last 9 years. All of this Due to the ever increasing rent, property development and complaints from neighbours of the venue. At the rate these venues, not just in London but across the UK were closing and all hope was beginning to diminish. That was until March 14th, where the Ministers at the Department for communities and Local Government and the Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey MP came together to introduce a new legislation that protects small venues. As of April 6th, planning authorities have to consider the noise impact from pre-existing businesses to new residents (The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016)
On the morning of the announcement The Music Venue Trust explained the new legislation in more detail,
“Permitted development rights have been extended in recent years and allow certain developments to take place without the need to go through the full planning system. The new regulations mean developers are now required to seek prior approval on noise impacts before a change of use from an office to residential building can be carried out. In short – you can’t change offices to flats any more if a music venue is nearby, developers will need to work with the local authority and the music venue to ensure that live music is protected.”
This legislation prevents property developers from building new residential properties in an area if there is a music venue on the same street. If a developer wants to build to they must work alongside the music venue so live music can stay preserved.
While this new legislation works to protect existing venues from future closures, it will not protect the venues where the planning has recently gone through. It can also be argued that this legislation has been brought in too late with some of the UK’s most beloved venues facing closure or already been closed down such as The Astoria and The Owl Sanctuary. However the response from small venues whether or not they are facing closure has been huge,
“”Its about time that local and national authorities started taking note of not only the value financially the UK music economy brings in but also the non monetary value of art itself and the social well being it creates. These steps are hopefully ones in the right direction to the implementation of the agents of change principle which in its simplest form is pure common sense. We have to remain open minded when it comes to building living spaces and in some areas they are of course needed particularly social housing, everyone needs to live somewhere after all but it’s when grass roots local arts is being paved over to build flats for the upper middle class to rent to the lower classes for a profit thats when we have a problem in our society and hopefully this change in legislation is a sign that the arts will no longer be the victim in that” The Owl Sanctuary
“We warmly welcome the amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act, and the intention of government to write to local authorities drawing their attention to the music venue specific amendments made to this act and to the National Planning Guidance. For Music Venue Trust, this has never been about stopping developments or the creation of much needed new residential space in our towns and cities. It has always been about making sure that new homes and flats can live in harmony with existing businesses by getting great, suitable development. This is easily achieved if developers work with their local music venues and the local authority to put in place measures that reduce noise and manage buildings effectively. It is great to see UK Law now supporting that position.” Mark Davyd – Music Venue trust
This legislation, has been heavily criticised for preventing new properties from being developed which of course is very important with the UK’s ever increasing population. But as seen in the statements above, this is legislation was not put into place to stop the development of new homes, it’s about music venues and other properties from homes to businesses being in harmony and suitable development being built.