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Planning News: Agent of Change

Planning News: Agent of Change

The Government has recently announced plans to adopt Agent of Change into The National Planning Policy Framework.

In a press statement released at the end of January the Government said:

Housing developers building new homes near music venues should be responsible for addressing noise issues in a move to protect both music venues and their neighbours the Housing Secretary has said.

The National Planning Policy Framework, which local authorities are legally bound to comply with, will now be clarified to include detailed reference to the ‘Agent of Change’ principle, and will be consulted on in spring.

The move means developers will be responsible for identifying and solving any sound problems, if granted permission to build, and avoid music venues, community and sports clubs and even churches running into expensive issues as a result of complaints from new neighbours.”

The Government has confirmed that the forthcoming revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will include 'detailed reference' to a planning principle intended to protect night-time music venues.

Under the proposals, the Government will amend the NPPF to make sure decisions take account of existing businesses and other organisations, such as churches, community pubs and music venues, when locating new development nearby and, where necessary, to mitigate the impact of noise and other potential nuisances arising from existing development.

The changes are partly as a result of a campaign backed by the Music Venue Trust whose patrons include Paul McCartney,  Steve Lamacq, Divine Comedy, Slaves, Savages and many other musicians/djs etc… The campaign highlighted the threat to music clubs and gig venues, which have been forced to close owing to complaints by new residents.

The existing version of the NPPF, in paragraph 123, advises that planning policies and decisions should recognise that existing businesses should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them because of changes to nearby land uses. The associated Planning Practice Guidance on noise indicates that consideration should be given to the potential effects of locating new residential development close to existing businesses that cause noise.

However the proposed changes to the NPPF are understood to recognise the principle by which a party introducing a new land use is responsible for managing the impact of that change. The NPPF will be amended to more fully recognise this principle and consultation on the revisions to the NPPF are anticipated in Spring 2018.

The “Agent of Change” principle, as it’s become known, is also restated and extended beyond music venues etc in the Draft New London Plan in Chapter 3 (Design) Policy D12, where the responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise generating activities or uses is placed on the new proposed noise sensitive development, and is summarised:

  1.  The Agent of Change principle places the responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise-generating activities or uses on the proposed new noise-sensitive development.
  2. Boroughs should ensure that planning decisions reflect the Agent of Change principle and take account of existing noise-generating uses in a sensitive manner when new development, particularly residential, is proposed nearby.
  3. Development proposals should manage noise and other potential nuisances by:
    1. ensuring good acoustic design to mitigate and minimise existing and potential impacts of noise generated by existing uses located in the area
    2. exploring mitigation measures early in the design stage, with necessary and appropriate provisions secured through planning obligations
    3. separating new noise-sensitive development where possible from existing noise-generating businesses through distance, screening, internal layout, sound-proofing and insulation, and other acoustic design measures.
  4. Development should be designed to ensure that established noise-generating venues remain viable and can continue or grow without unreasonable restrictions being placed on them.
  5. New noise-generating development, such as industrial uses, music venues, pubs, rail infrastructure, schools and sporting venues proposed close to residential and other noise-sensitive development should put in place measures such as soundproofing to mitigate and manage any noise impacts for neighbouring residents and businesses.
  6. Boroughs should refuse development proposals that have not clearly demonstrated how noise impacts will be mitigated and managed.

The link below for the (draft) Policy, which will also take you to Policy D13, which concerns noise more generally, including quiet spaces, tranquillity and enhancement/improvement of acoustic environments. The consultation period for this draft plan is now open and closes on the 2nd March 2018.

Sharps Redmore will be watching these developments with interest to ensure that the most up to date standards, references and guidance documents continue to be employed for surveys, assessments and reports for future projects.