The Government have recently reviewed their legislation and believe that the law as currently constituted strikes the appropriate balance between considering the needs of venues and managing the adverse effects that can come from noise.
I thank the Minister for that response. He will know that many people are arguing for an agent of change law in this country, as there is in Australia. They do not believe that existing legislation protects venues from developers who are building around the venue then submitting noise complaints. The owner of The Fleece in Bristol says that
“the reality of the current situation could not be further from the picture painted in the planning practice guidance”,
and the venue’s representatives are back before the planning committee next Wednesday.
The Minister will very soon be getting an invitation to Venues day on
The hon. Lady is a great champion of live music, so it does not surprise me that she is raising this issue, and I will certainly consider the invitation to Venues day. As far as The Fleece is concerned, I understand that Bristol city council has imposed some acoustic restrictions on planned developments around it. The agent of change principle has only recently been implemented in Australia. Some elements of it exist in our own planning policies, but I will certainly raise that with planning Ministers.
I share the concerns of my hon. Friend Kerry McCarthy about venues. Is not the real solution to the problem to have much more effective regulation of noise from existing venues—strict noise limiters and so on? The problem is not string quartets or small jazz groups; it is heavily amplified popular music. I know people enjoy that, but should it not be limited in volume?
In effect, the hon. Gentleman’s question reveals the dilemma, because the hon. Member for Bristol East was raising the issue of new developments springing up and new residents complaining about a music venue that has been in operation for many years—the Ministry of Sound is the most high profile recent example. At the same time, as the hon. Gentleman says, residents will want to be able to sleep soundly in their beds at night. Squaring that circle is always the difficulty that councils and planning Ministers have to wrestle with.