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Theatres Trust welcomes rules change giving Welsh venues greater protection

Wales Millennium Centre. Photo: Phil Boorman Wales Millennium Centre – new rules mean the Theatres Trust must also be consulted on planning that could affect the creation of a new theatre. Photo: Phil Boorman
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New planning rules in Wales will give extra protection to theatres threatened by the building of new properties close by.

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order (Wales) 2016, which came into force on March 16, dictates that the Theatres Trust must be consulted on all developments requiring planning permission that involve an existing theatre or the creation of a new theatre, as well as proposed residential developments that fall within 50 metres of a theatre building.

Previously the trust would have been referred applications relating only to existing theatres.

The trust has now called for planning policy and regulations in England and Scotland to be brought in line with the expanded legislation in Wales.

Theatres Trust planning advisor Ross Anthony described the move as a “really good step” that will allow the body to become involved in a wider range of developments at an earlier stage.

He told The Stage: “Once [planning] is approved it is very hard to seek changes, so this does allow us to intervene earlier and provide our advice to the relevant local authorities.”

The legislative change comes after the Theatres Trust met with the Welsh government last year in a bid to expand its remit in Wales.

The trust’s director, Mhora Samuel, said the new rules would have a particularly important impact around developments built close to theatres, which has become a growing concern for many venues.

“It gives the trust more opportunity to ensure new developments next to theatres, including housing, retail and commercial, do not affect the long-term operation or viability of the theatre,” she said.

Current legislation in England and Scotland means that the Theatres Trust is consulted on applications involving existing venues. The body is lobbying governments to extend the remit to include developments next to theatres as well as new theatre buildings.

Anthony added that local authorities in England and Scotland do consult the body on new buildings, but that a change in legislation would “clarify that as a requirement”.

A review of the Scottish planning system is currently taking place.

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