‘Agent-of-change’ principle should be compulsory for property developers, say MPs and groups

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Planning Law on Monday, December 18th, 2017

MPs and influential groups have extended their backing to calls for a new law which would force property developers to consider the impact of all planned developments on pre-existing businesses in the surrounding area before pushing ahead with their plans.

The so-called ‘agent-of-change’ principle is already included in English planning guidance as of May 2016. However, groups are calling for the principle to be made ‘compulsory’ in relation to all planned developments in the near future.

Calls for change have been particularly widespread in the music industry of late, with umbrella group UK Music leading a campaign to reform the ‘agent-of-change’ principle in a bid to protect grassroots music venues.

For example, it says that residential property developers ought to take responsibility for soundproofing their developments in instances where residential housing is being built within the close vicinity of a pre-existing music venue or similar facility.

The group says that such measures would reduce the likelihood of residents complaining about the noise created by a pre-existing venue – as this can sometimes lead to potentially detrimental conflicts which tend to see such venues subsequently closed down.

It adds that the onus on developers to ensure solutions are in place to mitigate the impact of their projects on existing businesses should be compulsory, as opposed to optional – a view which has been rapidly attracting the support of Parliamentarians of late.

MPs including David Warburton, Chairman of the all-party Parliamentary group on music, and former Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, have endorsed UK Music’s proposals – which seek to see the principle introduced across all of the UK, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Mr Warburton said: “Putting the agent-of-change principle firmly into law is simple common sense.

“Any new development, whether it’s a residential project near a music venue or a music venue opening next to properties, should be responsible for the costs of protecting against the noise – because they’re the ones making the change to the environment.”

According to reports, the proposals are soon to be brought forward at Westminster by Labour MP and former Government minister John Spellar, who has also previously voiced his support for the proposed reforms.

A debate in the House of Commons is due to follow early in the New Year.


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