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Agent of change – new builds?

The ‘agent of change’ principle has been hotly debated in planning circles for some time. Indeed, the concept is likely to feature in the revised National Planning Policy Framework and the draft London Plan (as well as Planning Policy Wales). But, what is the ‘agent of change’ principle?

The idea is that a party who introduces a new use should be responsible for managing the impact of that use. This is particularly important if the new use is more sensitive than the existing uses around it. The concept has arisen, in large part, because of problems being faced by late-night music venues and nightclubs which face noise complaints from the occupants of new-build residential properties. In simple terms, the suggestion is that if a developer builds near a noisy nightclub then it is for the developer to mitigate the effects that noise will have on residents in the development. In practice, many night-time venues currently face licensing renewal problems because of complaints by local (new) residents. Now, however, the planning regime is seen as a way of potentially providing protection for existing noisy venues.

As yet, this is merely a proposal for change, but there is a considerable groundswell of support for the concept that those who build in a noisy environment should be responsible for managing that noise (ie by appropriate build standards), rather than expecting the noisy venues to adapt or shut down (either because of licensing problems, or the threats of nuisance claims).

 

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