A recent change in UK planning law and guidance has made it possible for premises licence holders to object to future residential developments near their venues.

Prior to the planning policy change, licensed venues could be subject to complaints from residents living in the vicinity even if the licensed venue was predates residential premises.  There have been reported cases of premises licences being review and subsequently revoked as a result of noise complaints.

Earlier this year the Government implemented changes to the national planning policy framework to introduce the “Agent of Change Principle”.  The law is now that the person or business responsible for the change is responsible for managing the impact of the change, whereas before, the legal principle was that whoever is causing the nuisance is also responsible for that nuisance.

The practical implications of the Agent of Change Principle is that the onus now falls on property developers to ensure the change (i.e. a new residential development) is managed in such a way that the impact is mitigated. For example, if a new residential development is planned in the vicinity of an existing music venue, the developer will need to plan for adequate soundproofing or insulation of the residential properties.  It is also now the case that the legal principle is that a new resident will know that they are moving in next to a music venue and as such should reasonably expect that there may be some measure of impact on them as a result.

There has recently been a case where planning permission for a new residential conversion was turned down partly on the ground that it did not satisfy the Agent of Change principle.  In this case, Academy Music Group objected saying that future residents could cause problems for the venue by complaining about noise levels.

This is the first known case where Agent of Change principle has been applied to a planning application.

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