23 May 2023
Dear Rebecca (Case Officer) and cc Liz Hobden (Head of Planning),
I've been contacted by the Music Venue Alliance (MVA) who have raised concerns about the planning application submitted to develop the site at 125 Queens Road Street from commercial, business and service units into residential self-contained flats. The concerns being raised by the MVA and local residents is due to the proximity of the site to three popular grassroots music venues, The Hope & Ruin, Rossi Bar and The Folklore Rooms.
As the MP for Brighton Pavilion, I am acutely aware of the need for additional housing in the city, and also the preference for brownfield sites to be utilised for this purpose. However, I share the MVA's concerns about the potential risks a housing development could pose so close to established live music venues. I actively lobbied the Government about the need for better protections for live music venues and, I pushed for, and I support, the agent of change principle which is relevant for this application. As Brighton and Hove City Council will be aware, the agent of change has been incorporated into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which notes that:
"187. Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated effectively with existing businesses and community facilities (such as places of worship, pubs, music venues and sports clubs). Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established. Where the operation of an existing business or community facility could have a significant adverse effect on new development (including changes of use) in its vicinity, the applicant (or ‘agent of change’) should be required to provide suitable mitigation before the development has been completed."
I note that the Music Venue Trust (MVT) have also submitted comments in relation to this planning application. I’ve worked closely with this national charity in the past, who do excellent work to promote and protect venues in the UK. The MVT make some important points, including expressing concerns that the noise assessment submitted with this application does not contain enough mitigation to address the risks music venues face from new housing developments. Therefore, it conflicts with protections offered by the agent of change principle, which is incorporated within the City Plan Part Two as well as the NPPF.
The local live performance and creative arts sectors are not only essential to Brighton & Hove’s tourism offer and night time economy, they are a fundamental part of the city’s identity. Grassroots venues like The Hope & Ruin, Rossi Bar and The Folklore Rooms play an important role nurturing new local talent which is evident through the city’s remarkable and proud export of successful local bands and artists. It is vital that councillors considering this planning application reflect the spirit of the agent of change in any planning decision made to ensure that the future of these venues are not placed at any increased risk as result of new developments. When this application is discussed by the Planning Committee, I encourage councillors to ensure that the importance of these venues are fully taken into consideration, and fabric of the city's music scene is properly recognised. Protections need to be in place to ensure that any new development does not create a potential noise nuisance issue which could later threaten the existence of these venues.
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