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Agent of Change to Save Music Venues Backed by Government Move

Alongside UK Music, BASCA members and leading figures from the music industry launched a successful parliamentary battle to save music venues from closure.

On 10th January 2018, the Government announced a dramatic change to the handling of music venues across the UK, by strengthening planning rules and supporting the protection of independent venues under threat.

At the conclusion of negotiations led by UK Music, Mr Javid promised major changes to the nationwide planning policies that the Government expects planning authorities to legally comply with.

The campaign for the proposed new law attracted cross-party support from politicians and music stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Brian Eno, Chrissie Hynde, Nick Mason, Sandie Shaw, Nadine Shah, Ray Davies, Imogen Heap, Billy Bragg, Feargal Sharkey and Craig David.

UK Music’s plan was backed by at least 75 MPs and peers including former Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, as well as organisations including BASCA, the Music Venue Trust the Musicians’ Union.


The new legislation means that developers will have to take account of the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses like music venues before going ahead with their plans. This could mean, for example, the developer of new flats takes responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a music venue.

The new law was proposed by Labour MP and former Government Minister John Spellar who will table his Planning (Agent of Change) Bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday January 10 after the photo-call.

Among the venues that had to fight closure threats in the past are London’s iconic Ministry of Sound and the 100 Club. Venues that face similar threats today include Bristol venues, the Thekla, the Fiddlers and the Fleece.   Campaigners are also battling to protect the Womanby Street music quarter in Cardiff from developers.

With this new legislation coming into play, the music industry’s contribution to the UK economy will continue to grow.

UK Music Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “The UK music industry contributes more than £4 billion to our economy and brings pleasure to millions of people at home and overseas. It’s time for the Government to get behind the legislation and help save the venues that are such a crucial part of the music industry.”

John Spellar said: “Fewer venues means less work, less opportunity to develop talent or even find out that you are not going to make it in the industry, but also to move up from amateur to part-time, to full-time, to national or even international stardom. If the present situation does not change, we are in danger of taking away the ladder that has served individual musicians and the Music Industry so well for so long.”

Sir Paul McCartney said: “Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues my career could have been very different. If we don’t support music at this level, then the future of music in general is in danger.”

Chrissie Hynde said: “When I heard of the impending threat to small venues, my heart skipped a beat

It isn’t talent shows on television or theatre schools that propagate great music, it’s small venues. They’re the setting of everything great that’s come out of the music scene in this country, from the Beatles to Oasis and beyond.  England has long led the world of popular music; the rest of the world follow England.  If small venues shut down, so will England’s unique creative output.  It will be like locking up playgrounds at schools.  The whole world will suffer, not just England.” 

Craig David said: “As an artist I’m concerned that music venues are facing unprecedented threats and it is a matter of great concern to us all. I give my strong support for proposals to change planning law so that we can keep music live.”