Live music venues including pubs, theatres, music and concert halls under threat from outdated noise restrictions could be protected under a proposed law change, which has the backing of councils.
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, has joined a cross-party campaign which will see a person or business responsible for a change in noise conditions being held responsible for managing that change.
This means, for example, that the builder of an apartment block built near an established live music venue would have to pay for soundproofing that apartment block, while a live venue opening in a residential area would be responsible for the costs of soundproofing the venue.
Under the proposed change, anybody who chooses to move next door to a music venue would be assessed as having made that decision understanding there is going to be some music noise. Equally, a music venue which buys a new public address system would also be expected to carry out tests to ensure its noise emissions don’t increase.
As it stands, the law states that somebody can move next door to a live music venue and ask for it to be quieter or restricted, regardless of how long it has existed or if there is any previous history of the same noise being a nuisance. The costs then have to be borne by the venue.
The proposals are outlined in a Private Members’ Bill by John Spellar MP, due to be introduced on Wednesday (January 10) and has cross-party backing from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Music, as well as from former culture minister Ed Vaizey, among others.
Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Our live music venues are part of the cultural lifeblood of communities, but sadly the increase in demand for housing in town centres is bringing some residents into conflict with them.
“It cannot be right that someone can knowingly move next door to such a venue and then decide afterwards that the music is a nuisance, in the same way that it is not right for a venue to install a speaker system without consideration for nearby residents. Instead this proposal provides a common-sense solution which strikes a balance between the obligations of developers and protecting the vital live music scene in our towns and cities across the country.
“This Bill offers a much-needed update which has already drawn widespread support across the political spectrum, and we look forward to seeing its progress through Parliament.”
The Agent of Change campaign, which is behind John Spellar’s Ten Minute Rule Bill, was first launched by the Music Venue Trust three years ago and is also supported by music industry body UK Music as well as fans, artists and other organisations. The Government has previously indicated that it would support the Bill and look at what has been put forward.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also adopted the Agent of Change principle in the draft London Plan, which the LGA says should be rolled out nationally.
NOTES TO EDITORS