The Musicians' Union has this week called for support from the UK government to protect the country's live music and entertainment venues, pushing for an 'Agent of Change Principle' which would remove the threat of noise issues as a result of local development work.
The MU has identified a worrying trend of long established music venues being forced to close after only 'one or two' complaints from neighbours, which often result in the issuing of noise abatement notices from the local authority. Venues forced to close include The Blind Tiger and the Freebutt in Brighton, the 200 Club in Newport, The Point in Cardiff and The Picturehouse in Edinburgh.
Shepherd's Bush Empire and Union Chapel – both iconic London venues – are currently facing potential threats due to the development of apartments near to the venues.
Australia’s Agent of Change principle puts the legal responsibility of remedying any issues on to the person or persons who have brought about the changes that inadvertently affect an individual’s business. Under this law, in the case of a property developer building homes in the vicinity of a music venue, it would be the property developer’s legal and financial responsibility to use sound proofing to prevent any inconvenience to the residents and the music venue bears no responsibility, other than to continue to operate within the terms of their existing licence. Equally, if a new venue opens in a residential area, the venue is responsible for the cost.
John Smith, Musicians’ Union general secretary commented: ‘Music venues across the country are vitally important - both for musicians and bands who rely on them for their livelihoods and for music fans and local communities.
‘Venues must, of course, stick to the terms of their licence and residents must be able to complain if they do not comply or are causing a genuine nuisance. But a growing number of well-established venues have been forced to close or to undertake expensive noise reduction work as a result of noise complaints and abatement notices served by new developments. We would like the Government to consider introducing the Agent of Change principle in order to help protect these important cultural spaces.’
Picture: Gaz Coombes performing at Union Chapel. Credit: Jordan McLachlan