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  • Writer's picturePeter Rogers

Agent of Change is Embraced by Governments New Planning Policy

The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) could be music to the ears of pubs and clubs owners and existing businesses, with the possible gold rush at the developers expense, that they 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 business 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, drive by successful lobbying by UKMusic and Music Venue Trust. The implications of this will be far reaching as developers of new residential building “in the vicinity” of licensed premises, community facilities and businesses that make noise need to use suitable mitigation before completion to ensure the operation is able to continue 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 complaint 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“

I’d do a more comprehensive note once I get time, which I’ll publish , to assist those who want to be one step ahead of this rather interesting development in the dance between the planning and licensing regimes.

Peter Rogers

Managing Director and Founder, BSc(Hons) MSc CEng FIOA FRSA

Expert Witness and Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics

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