Calls for the ‘agent of change’ principle to be made legal obligation

2nd October 2023 | Jack Oliver

Trade body UKHospitality has called for the ‘agent of change’ principle to be made a legal obligation, making it mandatory for developers to mitigate any noise issues from existing hospitality businesses.

The principle works so that if a new venue or noise generating development is built near existing residential properties, the onus is on the new development to put in place noise mitigating measures, and vice versa.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is currently consulting on a number of proposals to support housing delivery. The proposals include allowing the change of use of hotels, boarding houses, or guest houses to residential buildings.

UKHospitality has said that current requirements for developers building close to hospitality businesses “lack teeth”, resulting in tensions between residents and pre-existing venues.

The group said that the proposals to ease change of use requirements must not place viable accommodation businesses under the threat of conversion, and that it supports proposals that hotel businesses converted into residential properties cannot be used for short-term letting purposes.

UKHospitality added that before any residential conversions, there must be assessments made to determine that the losses of these businesses will not lead to significant negative impacts to the local economy.

The group’s chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “It is entirely reasonable for the Government to explore new ways of increasing the nation’s housing stock but this simply must not come at the expense of viable hospitality businesses or in a way that increases tensions between local businesses and residents.

“The ‘agent of change’ principle is absolutely crucial in this regard and we wholeheartedly support its intentions.

“Developers must be responsible for mitigating any noise issues that may arise from pre-existing hospitality businesses. They cannot simply ignore the issue and dump it on the doorsteps of local businesses.

“However, the principle needs to be enshrined in legislation to force developers to take notice and put in place appropriate provisions. The current requirements are simply inadequate and will continue to lead to issues.

“It was fantastic to see so many peers support this in a recent debate on the Levelling Up Bill in the House of Lords and I would urge the Government to work with us to make the required changes to ‘agent of change’, to the benefit of both businesses and residents.”


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