The Music Venue Trust, formed earlier this year to “protect the UK[‘s] live music network,” recently launched its second national campaign – in defence of Britain’s live venues, which it says are facing a “huge threat” from property developers.
Launching the campaign with an HM Government petition calling on the environment secretary to “carry out an urgent review of noise abatement legislation to ensure that the proper balance is being struck between the individual rights of owners/occupiers and the right of communities to be able to enjoy live music,” the organisation claims that “town centre venues [are] facing noise abatement notices from brand new flats and new owners/occupiers,” threatening traditional live music strongholds.
Among the venues believed to be under threat are the historic Night and Day Café in Manchester (pictured, credit: Phil King) and The Fleece in Bristol, which have hosted artists like Johnny Marr and Alex Turner, and Oasis, Radiohead and The White Stripes, respectively. The Ministry of Sound in London (home of the Pro Sound Awards!) only narrowly escaped closure in January after agreeing to install major new noise reduction equipment.
“The Music Venue Trust believes that venues should be good neighbours, engaging with their local communities and addressing concerns around noise and anti-social behaviour,” said a statement from the organisation, “but … being a good neighbour is a reciprocal process, and … people who choose to live near to community spaces [accept] the responsibility to behave as a good neighbour to their adjoining music venue, church or community space…
“We believe this is a common sense approach – if you hate sport, why move next to a football pitch? If you hate music, why move next to a live music venue?
It continues: “Being a good neighbour within a community is fundamentally important, and any neighbour who abuses his fellow neighbours in any way should suffer the appropriate legal consequences. However, we believe that the current provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 that relate to noise and the serving of noise abatement notices have unintentionally provided rights to new tenants or developers to limit and control noise that are outside the intent of the common sense approach, and that these rights are being misused to attempt to prevent local communities from being able to enjoy the normal, established and historic use of these spaces.
“We call upon the Secretary of State [for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] to act in partnership with the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government to urgently review all relevant legislation and amend it so that the rights of existing venues and other ‘noisy’ spaces are suitably recognised within the acts in a manner that reflects the needs and wishes of local communities.”
The petition can be signed at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/65582.