Mayor to issue planning guidance to help stem loss of London music venues

The Mayor of London is to publish a guide on how planning policy can protect music and cultural venues across the capital, after a report showed more than a third of the capital's grassroots music venues have been lost since 2007.

Live music: grassroots venues closing
Live music: grassroots venues closing

The Mayor's music venues taskforce was set up earlier this year to look at the challenges faced by grassroots music venues and propose a way forward.

Its report, published today, said that planning, licensing, policing and fiscal policy is "struggling to balance the needs of grassroots music venues with those of residents and businesses".

It added: "An increasing population means that residential development is taking place cheek-by-jowl with night-time activity. This pressure, coupled with rising property prices and increasing costs for grassroots music venues, is proving too much and venues are closing."

In response, Boris Johnson has pledged to publish a Culture and Planning Guide, providing "jargon-free advice for the music and culture sectors on how planning policy can protect music and cultural venues".

City Hall also said support would be given to the application of "agent of change principles", which "puts the onus on the developer to mitigate against future problems that could arise between newcomers and a longstanding local venue".

City Hall has already included advice on implementing the agent of change principle in the draft Central Activities Zone supplementary planning guide (SPG), it said.

City Hall added that a London Music Development Board will also be established including representatives from London’s music industry, planning departments, licensing and transport authorities. The body will take over the work the taskforce started, and implement its recommendations, City Hall said. 

Johnson said: "The Music Venues Taskforce report makes it clear that protecting live music venues is crucial to London's continued position as the music capital of the world. This timely report will shape our long term action plan to safeguard and revive London's vital network of live music venues, ensuring the future of the capital's culturally and economically important music scene."

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