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Planning guidance – Now Includes ‘Agent of Change’

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Planning guidance – Now Includes ‘Agent of Change’ 26th July 2018

The National Planning Policy Framework, issued in July 2018, includes provisions relating to the “Agent of Change” principle.

The guidance states: “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.”

Commenting on the planning guidance, Hannah Price from Poppleston Allen said: “Noise from these licensed premises (in the main) is one of the main drivers for this making its way into national planning policy. The implications of this will be far reaching, as developers of new residential building “in the vicinity” of licensed premises and community facilities need to use suitable mitigation before completion, to ensure the operation is able to carry on as it did before.

“All sorts of questions arise, such as how far does the vicinity extend?; What is the baseline of operational noise?; Is there a chance for premises to improve their own sound insulation at the cost of the developer?; What happens if residents then complain even with the mitigation in place?; What is the test that should apply for existing businesses like offices where gyms infill unused retail?

“Perhaps these questions will be answered as part of pending update in the NPPG, expected later this year, but it is certain that Agent of Change ushers in the need for premises to keep a close eye of planning applications near them, and then seek good advice. My word of caution is to be careful what you wish for, as the value of the vibrant areas that exist in the UK, will need good acoustic design to make sure they are protected and not killed, once residential encroaches upon them.”

Source: Poppleston Allen

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