The UK Government have recently announced plans to incorporate the ‘Agent of Change’ (AoC) principle into the National Planning Policy Framework document.
The full press release is available here.
It may also be adopted in legislation with the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill 2017-19 currently working its way through the House of Commons.
The AoC principle means that any person or business responsible for a change is responsible for managing the impact of that change.
For example, in the situation where new residential development is introduced close to an existing music venue, the developer would be responsible should the residents be disturbed by noise from the venue.
Whilst the AoC principle seems like common sense, at present UK law says that whoever is making a nuisance is always responsible for that nuisance. Consequently, numerous existing commercial premises have been forced to close down or make expensive alterations following complaints from new occupants of new residential developments moving into an area, even if the premises have operated for years without complaint. At present, it is not a defence to use the “we were here first” argument.
Whilst the exact details of the changes to be made are yet to be confirmed, the change is likely to mean that developers carry significant risk when building near to existing commercial premises such as music venues, community and sports clubs and churches.
It will therefore become more important that developers get the acoustic design right when building close to these venues. If they don’t, they could be liable to significant costs. Noise control measures such as noise barriers, acoustic glazing and acoustically upgraded ventilation are not uncommon treatments for buildings affected by noise from commercial uses and these treatments can be very expensive to implement retrospectively.
The proposals are being consulted on. We will keep you updated with the progress of any changes.
If you would like to discuss the AoC principle and how this may affect your development please call Adam Bamford on 01234 834773.