SCOTLAND is “leading the way” in protecting music venues from planning disputes which threaten them with closure, MSPs have heard.

Representatives from music industry bodies welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent announcement on planning guidance. It aims to ensure developers building homes near established music venues will be responsible for ensuring residents are not disturbed by noise.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee, Tom Kiehl from UK Music highlighted Scotland’s “immense contribution to the music industry”, saying 1.2 million music tourists spent £334m last year.

He said an estimated 35 per cent of live music venues across the UK closed in the past 10 years for a variety of reasons with planning issues “becoming a particular concern”, adding: “Planning disputes can threaten a venue’s existence.

“You then have a situation with a new development or a change of use situation in that area that then creates problems for that venue because as soon as you develop residential accommodation, we all want places for people to live, but as soon as you develop that then you have potential situation leaving them vulnerable to noise complaints issues which then could threaten licences.”

He said a lengthy campaign has been fought for the adoption of the agent of change principle, which originated in Australia, and puts the onus on the new business or development coming into an area to mitigate noise complaints.

The Scottish Government announced earlier this month a letter is being sent to all planning authorities asking them to ensure decisions reflect the principle from now on and it will be formally included in a new version of the national planning framework.