Theatres and music venues in England have secured much-needed protection from the threat of licensing restrictions and closure because of noise complaints from nearby developments.
New policy means property developers in England will now have to ensure their buildings are protected from the noise of nearby live entertainment venues, in an update to planning policy hailed as a victory for the music and theatre industries.
Until now, theatres near new developments have faced the threat of restrictions to their licences or – in the worst-case scenarios – complete closure, because of potential noise complaints from people moving into properties nearby that were granted planning permission after the live venues were established.
Venues have long-since been calling on more robust measures to protect theatres from such threats, calling for the ‘agent of change’ principle – whereby the onus is placed on developers to ensure new buildings are soundproofed from any noise from existing venues – to be applied to planning decisions.
Most recently, West End theatre operators including Nica Burns warned of the dangers to venues in London because of the situation.
The government’s updated National Planning Policy Framework now includes a clause that safeguards venues near to new developments.
“Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new developments can be integrated effectively with existing businesses and community facilities (such as places of worship, pubs, music venues and sports clubs). Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established,” it states.
“Where the operation of an existing business or community facility could have a significant adverse effect on new development in its vicinity, the applicant (or’agent of change’) should be required to provide suitable mitigation before the development has been completed,” it adds.
Local authorities are now legally bound to comply with the NPPF, and therefore need to be mindful of it when considering planning applications.
The Musicians’ Union has been campaigning on the issue, because of the threats faced by live music venues.
General secretary Horace Trubridge said: “While this comes too late for some of the fantastic venues that have closed in recent years, we hope the support is sufficient to allow current and future venues to not only exist but to thrive in the ever-changing environments that they’ve played a part in shaping.”