News Agent of Change Has Arrived

The National Planning Policy Framework (July 2018) – Now Includes ‘Agent of Change’

“The long awaited National Planning Policy Framework (July 2018) has been published. Included in it is the principle of “Agent of Change”. 

This will inevitably have a wide reaching effect, particularly when new licensed premises are seeking to open – mitigation will need to be considered to those already in existence. And likewise for existing music venues and bars, if a developer builds a residential development nearby the onus on the mitigation would be on the developer. 

We have spoken to leading Sound Acoustician, Peter Rogers (Managing Director of Sustainable Acoustics Ltd), for his view on this change to policy:

“This could be the sound of the gold rush that pubs and clubs have been waiting for. 

Paragraph 182 of the new NPPF throws open the can of technical worms on the matter of Agent of Change, and what it means in planning terms. What it says is that impacts on existing businesses should “not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development that is permitted after they were established”. The examples of these businesses that are given are places of worship, pubs, music venues and sports clubs. 

Noise from these licensed premises (in the main) is one of the main drivers for this making its way into national planning policy. The implications of this will be far reaching, as developers of new residential building “in the vicinity” of licensed premises and community facilities need to use suitable mitigation before completion, to ensure the operation is able to carry on as it did before.

All sorts of questions arise, such as how far does the vicinity extend?; What is the baseline of operational noise?; Is there a chance for premises to improve their own sound insulation at the cost of the developer?; What happens if residents then complain even with the mitigation in place?; What is the test that should apply for existing businesses like offices where gyms infill unused retail?  

Perhaps these questions will be answered as part of pending update in the NPPG, expected later this year, but it is certain that Agent of Change ushers in the need for premises to keep a close eye of planning applications near them, and then seek good advice. My word of caution is to be careful what you wish for, as the value of the vibrant areas that exist in the UK, will need good acoustic design to make sure they are protected and not killed, once residential encroaches upon them.”

You can read further information about this here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728643/Revised_NPPF_2018.pdf

To discuss this or any other legal related issue contact Associate Hannah Price 0115 953 8500.