“Agent of change” principle now enshrined in National Planning Policy Framework

Further to our report in March this year that the Government had published its National Planning Policy Framework Consultation proposals, we can confirm that the final version of the new National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”) has now been published, enshrining within it for the first time the ‘agent of change’ principle.

Paragraph 182 of the NPPF is of particular relevance for pubs, nightclubs and music venues located close to proposed new housing developments. It states as follows:

“Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated effectively with existing businesses and community facilities (such as places of worship, pubs, music venues and sports clubs). Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established. Where the operation of an existing business or community facility could have a significant adverse effect on new development (including changes of use) in its vicinity, the applicant (or ‘agent of change’) should be required to provide suitable mitigation before the development has been completed.”

Welcoming introduction of ‘agent of change’ in the NPPF, UK Music Chief Executive Michael Dugher said that this “marks a pivotal moment in the fight to protect under threat music venues. The Government is to be congratulated for taking this decisive step. Too often music venues have been the victims of developers. This new law will help ensure music venues can continue to grow audiences and develop talent, contributing significantly to our £1 billion live music industry. This has been a long fought battle and it is vital that local authorities back it to save live music. There is now no excuse for local authorities for not stepping in to protect grassroots music venues.”