After a protracted battle, Victoria’s live music scene will finally see the implementation of Agent of Change laws that will better protect venues from noise complaints by new residential developments.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy will reportedly sign into action a suite of changes to planning regulation that will enshrine the Agent of Change principal in planning law. The Age reports the changes will also create a half million dollar fund to help heritage venues become sound proof.
Under the revised rules, new developments, particularly those within 50 metres of a live music venue, will be responsible for footing the costs of sound-proofing themselves. “This means beloved pubs and clubs that are home to live music in Victoria will not be forced to close due to noise complaints from those in new apartment buildings or new houses next door,” Mr Guy said.
It was reported last week that the Minister had pushed forward crisis talks with music industry lobby groups to discuss vital reforms to the city’s live music scene after he was criticised for dragging his feet.
According to The Age, Mr Guy acknowledged that the government had hoped to finalise the Agent of Change rules by April but said the process was complex. “This is by far and away the strongest planning regulatory reform in Australia that protects existing live music venues,” he said in a statement today.
The Victorian state government is also setting up a $500,000 assistance fund to assist venues in heritage buildings, which are not helped by the agent of change laws, with the expense of sound proofing. Also, venues under 500 square metres will now sensibly not have to meet the same code compliance rules as larger venues.
Melbourne venue Cherry Bar recently raised $50,000 in 24 hours from a crowdfunding campaign where the live music loving public helped raise the necessary funds for costly soundproofing works and Thornbury venue Tago Mago held a benefit concert this weekend also to raise funds for soundproofing.
In a statement, lobby group Music Victoria welcomed the changes calling them “a big win for the music industry” but said there are still some “important fine details” to work out, particularly regarding the protection of rehearsal studios from encroaching development.
“A lot of things that were broken have finally been fixed,” Music Victoria chief executive Patrick Donovan told The Age. “While unfortunately it is too late for some venues, like Cherry Bar, it looks like it has come in just in the nick of time for many other venues.”