Threat to grassroots Scots music scene from housebuilding

New homes threat to live music from the likes of Noel Gallagher.
New homes threat to live music from the likes of Noel Gallagher.
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Music venue bosses have warned MSPs that Scotland’s live “grassroots” music scene is under threat as more and more new homes are built on their doorsteps.

The Scottish Government has now intervened to issue new planning guidance making developers more responsible for measures like sound-proofing to protect venues from the threat of closure.

Much-loved venues across the country, like Edinburgh’s Studio 24, have been forced to shut in recent years. Glasgow legendary king Tuts Wah Wah Hut, where Oasis were discovered, is also increasingly being forced to defend itself against new hotel and residential developments nearby.

More than a third of smaller music venues have closed around the UK over the past decade, with Scotland’s venues in particular also threatened by tougher licencing laws, Holyrood’s local government committee heard.

“One of the main things we’ve noticed over the years are planning issues becoming a particular concern,” Tom Kiehl from UK Music said.

“You’ve got a situation where a venue might have existed for ten or 15 years, co-existing with other businesses in that areas. As soon you develop residential accommodation – we all want places for people to live, but as soon as you develop that, then you have a potential situation leaving them [venues] vulnerable to noise complaints issues which can then threaten licences.”

Scotland’s top venue owners, including the Sub Club, King Tut’s and Glasgow Barrowland, told MSPs in a written submission that the situation is critical.

“These threats to Scotland’s music venues cannot go unchecked and there is a pressing need address matters,” it stated.

“The planning system has a key role to play by ensuring there are appropriate policy measures in place to protect our country’s music venues.”

The Scottish Government announced last month that a letter is being sent to planning authorities asking them to ensure decisions reflect the “agent of change” principle and it will be formally included in a new version of the national planning framework expected to be adopted in 2020. This puts the onus on the new business or development coming into an area to mitigate noise complaints.