agent of change principle

steps further forward


The Agent of Change Principle, whereby developers of noise-sensitive developments (i.e. residential schemes) are required to ensure new development is protected from existing established and authorised noise-generating uses (i.e. music venues) is gaining momentum, following the publication this week of the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).


The Agent of Change Principle was first established when the original NPPF was published in March 2012.  It required planning policies and decisions to recognise that existing businesses wanting to develop in continuance of their business should not have unreasonable restrictions put on them because of changes in nearby land uses since they were established.

Subsequently, and following the introduction in April 2015 of the permitted change of use of offices to residential use under the Prior Approval process, the General Permitted Development Order was amended in April 2016 to require applicants and Councils to assess the likely impact of noise from existing commercial premises on the intended occupiers of residential units.

To address challenges to the night time economy, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has committed to introduce the Agent of Change Principle into the new London Plan to protect existing music venues, directly due to the decline of London’s nightclubs, live music venues and the loss of 140 pubs a year.

A Private Members Bill was introduced to Parliament in January 2018, which seeks to adopt the Agent of Change Principle into planning law, and is due for its second reading in May of this year.

The draft revised NPPF published this week retains the requirement that planning policies and decisions should ensure new development can be integrated effectively with existing businesses and community facilities, highlighting pubs and music venues as examples.  It specifically reinforces the requirement that, where an existing business has effects that could be deemed a statutory nuisance in light of new development, including changes of use in its vicinity, the applicant (the Agent of Change) is responsible for providing suitable mitigation before the development has been completed.

Consultation on the draft revised NPPF takes place until 10 May 2018.


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