Agent of Change

Bristol is one of the most celebrated creative cities in the world. Recently named a UNESCO City of Film and the Luxury Awards Travel Guide ‘Museum Destination of the Year’, we are a capital for culture. Equally celebrated is our vibrant art and music scene which boasts over ninety dedicated music venues that contribute to an inclusive creative environment for every genre imaginable.

The importance of the live music sector to people here and elsewhere in the UK is reflected in the amount of support being generated to secure the future of venues faced with challenges posed by urban development. Bristol’s live music venues face their own distinct, individual challenges which I have been keen to hear about to consider what can be done to protect this part of our cultural and economic landscape.

During the final Cabinet meeting of 2017 I announced a commitment to back up our long standing support for music venues with action. I have tasked our Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning and City Design, Cllr Nicola Beech, with the job of introducing the ‘agent of change’ principle to our Local Plan, which guides development in the city. Doing this will mean that property developers would be compelled to take account of pre-existing businesses, such as music venues, in an area before moving forward with a project. Developers would be responsible for putting in place soundproofing measures to solve potential issues around noise complaints.

After listening to the concerns of venues and live music supporters, recognising the value the sector delivers to the local economy (£45 million in Gross Value Added to Bristol’s economy in 2016) and discussing with Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, a leading voice in championing Bristol’s musical offer in Parliament, the decision to press ahead was straightforward.

It’s encouraging to see Labour MP John Speller, supported by Kerry McCarthy, introduce a ten-minute rule bill to Parliament on the agent of change principle. We will deliver the homes we need while supporting our cultural offer.

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