London developers to face the music… by footing soundproofing bill!

Property developers in London could be made to cover expenses for soundproofing nearby flats and residences that are located near to pubs, nightclubs and music venues in London under new plans to help tackle the steep decline of nightlife in the city.

The Cavern in Liverpool (or its modern reincarnation, at least) is a Mecca to any Beatles fan worth their salt. The Haçienda was a Mancunian music venue in Manchester that was the focal point of what became known as the Madchester years of the 80s and 90s.

However, for the past few years venues such as these (and many more throughout the UK) are falling into serious decline. The reason for the decline is twofold; there aren’t as many people actually going to the venues for live music anymore and it is becoming more and more difficult for venue owners to obtain or keep costly licenses to host late-night music. Whilst the first issue is much harder and more complex to tackle, the latter is largely due to pressure being put on venues by local developers to curb the noise in the interest of new residents.

The Troubadour in London is one such venue experiencing difficulties due to local residents. The historic and legendary coffee house – which has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan in 1962, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Morrissey to name but a few – is currently for sale because of noise complaints. Kensington and Chelsea borough declared that the garden could no longer be used after 9pm. This has driven drink turnover down substantially, and the very future of the place now hangs in the balance.

Often the music venues in question have been part of the fabric in these areas long before residential districts are built up around them. The developers that move in then attempt to purge anything from the area that might be deemed undesirable and give people reason not to live in the buildings. Ergo, complaints are made, restrictions are issued and the venue is then effectively starved of the custom it has been entertaining and thriving off for many years.

However, under the new ‘agent of change’ principle, which is to be incorporated into London planning rules going forward, the responsibility of solving issues raised will now sit squarely on the developer’s doorstep, rather than the local council or the venue itself. This will mean that if complaints are made by residents regarding noise from a club, the developer will need to pay for soundproofing for that residence to help block out the noise!

Whilst this may seem extreme, drastic times call for desperate measures. The number of small venues in London alone has fallen by over 30% in the last 8 years. Nightclubs across Britain have actually halved in the past 10 years. The ideology behind the incentive is that the venues should culturally enrich a residential area rather than be a nuisance.

London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture, Munira Mirza said “What we don’t want is for the important regeneration and infrastructure work to damage the music [venue] industry.”

“Some boroughs are very supportive of live music and others aren’t. A lot of them listen to their residents, and don’t necessarily hear the voice of all the people who enjoy visiting [music venues].”

Head of the Night Time Industries Association Alan Miller is pleased with the proposal, saying “this agent of change thing is brilliant but I think it should go further. We should have a situation where if you move into a busy street full of bars and clubs, that’s the street you’re moving into.”

Thankyou for the music!

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