Following concerns over the British Government’s recent radical shake-up of UK planning laws, the Music Venue Trust have received confirmation that grassroots venues will not be put at risk.
Last Tuesday (June 30), Boris Johnson unveiled his economic recovery plan for the UK after the coronavirus crisis, and confirmed new proposals that will allow developers to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes.
Dubbed “project speed”, the proposals will also allow a wider range of commercial buildings to switch to housing without a planning application.
The MVT claimed that the regulations are a “replica” of the Permitted Development Rights, which allowed developers to close hundred of venues before the government eventually stepped in to protect them in 2018 as part of the Agent of Change principle.
After seeking “urgent” clarification as to the new regulations’ effect on venues, the MVT have now confirmed that grassroots venues won’t be affected.
On Twitter, they shared a response from the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)to a question asked by Welsh Labour MP Kevin Brennan about whether the regulations retain protections for grassroots venues.
We are pleased to confirm that Grassroots Music Venues will not be included in amendments to the planning law under the proposed 'Project Speed'. Thanks to @KevinBrennanMP for asking the question and @DCMS for the very clear answer. pic.twitter.com/OSi124K3TD
— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) July 7, 2020
Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Health, replied, saying: “We recognise the value of grassroots music venues and understand that this sector is facing significant challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic. During this period we are committed to finding the best ways to protect them so that they can continue to exist as a vital part of the music ecosystem, feeding this country’s love of a broad range of culture.
“DCMS officials have been in regular dialogue with their Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government counterparts and will continue to work together closely. Changes to planning processes to support the high street revival, announced by the Prime Minister on 30 June 2020, will also recognise the value of retaining cultural buildings such as grassroots music venues and theatres rather than encouraging their change of use.”
Last month, the MVT also warned that an immediate cash injection of £50 million is needed to prevent a wave of permanent closures, with over 500 UK music venues signing an open letter calling for funding to “hibernate” them until October.
Emergency loans and grants will be given to arts, culture and heritage institutions and organisations to help them survive.