UK Music chief Michael Dugher has hailed a "landmark victory" after the Scottish Government backed plans to safeguard music venues.
The Scottish Government said it will strengthen planning rules and support calls for the Agent of Change principle to be included in the next revision of the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy.
The move means developers will be required to take account of the impact of any new plans on pre-existing businesses like music venues before going ahead with their schemes. That 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.
“This is a landmark victory for all those who fought so hard to safeguard the future of music venues in Scotland and across the UK - from grassroots community activists to global music stars who have spent years calling for Agent of Change," said Dugher (pictured).
“We are delighted the Scottish Government has thrown its support behind our Agent of Change plan and is toughening the rules to protect grassroots music venues. It’s a tremendous boost for the live music industry.
“Music tourism makes a huge contribution to Scotland, bringing enjoyment to millions and generating £334 million to the local economy.
“Supporting grassroots venues is key to maintaining the Scotland's vibrant and diverse music scene, as well as making sure we have the talent pipeline to maintain the our position as a global force in music.
“It’s great that Scottish Ministers have listened and responded so positively to UK Music, Music Venue Trust and other industry campaigners, all of whom have worked so hard to make sure grassroots venues get the help and protection they need. Lewis Macdonald MSP deserves particular recognition for the tireless dedication and leadership he has shown to deliver this landmark change in Scotland.”
The owners of Scottish music venues King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Sub Club, SWG3 and O2 ABC recently united to help fight for protection of venue closures from property developers. Scottish venues that have been forced to close include Studio 24, Electric Circus and Picture House.
Geoff Ellis, CEO of DF Concerts & Events, said: “Today’s news that the Agent of Change principle will be adopted into Scottish Planning policy is a huge step in protecting Scotland’s live music scene. It removes a crippling threat that loomed over our music venues for too long.
“We want to thank Kevin Stewart MSP for championing Agent of Change and striving for it to be implemented immediately. We also want to give special thanks to Scottish music fans for their support in lobbying MSPs to push for this change. They’ve proved, once again, why they’re the best fans in the world.”
UK Music has worked alongside North East Scotland MSP Lewis Macdonald to campaign for the introduction of Agent of Change in Scotland. The body has also led the campaign to get the Agent of Change principle enshrined in law in England and Wales.
The UK’s first live music census, published today, highlights the threats facing the long-term future of the domestic grassroots circuit.