Quick menu

New Law Will Protect UK Music Venues From Closure

Jimi Hendrix reading backstage at the Astoria in Finsbury Park, London in 1967. The venue is now a church. © Colin N. Purvor

It’s no secret that over the last 10 years or so London’s cherished, and more moderate-sized, music venues have been closing to make way for various infrastructure plans and new developments. Venues like the London Astoria (and it’s smaller nightclub sister Astoria 2 or LA2, located a few doors away from it) have now gone. The Astoria, located on Charing Cross Road, was demolished to make way for the new Crossrail transport service.

With its closure so too goes a part of London’s musical heritage. Bands that have played there include many of the greatest musicians of the last few decades. Like Nirvana, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Blur, Radiohead, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse, Prince, U2, and The White Stripes. It also saw many recordings take place including a 1994 Radiohead concert, released on DVD as Live at the Astoria and videos shot there by the Smashing Pumpkins.

The Who (Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon) photographed at The Marquee Club in March 1967. After numerous iterations and address changes the venue closed for good in 2008. © Ray Stevenson

But this is just one venue, a relatively large one too, and one with a central London location which means its closure in 2009 (it had been used as a live music venue since the 1980s) made national headlines. Still, it’s a story that has not only been happening across many of the London boroughs, but the entire of the UK too. And the venues that have closed are smaller, but by no means less important, probably more, for local people when it comes to not only local music scenes, but seeing touring bands too.

According to UK Music, a lobby and campaigning group representing the UK recorded and live music industry, nearly 35% of music venues have closed across the UK in the last decade. Another figure, from the Music Venue Trust, states that in the same period of time small venues specifically have fallen in the UK from 700 to 450.

Michael Dugher, CEO of UK Music, says that much of that is because of new housing developments being built near the venues. Which causes residents to complain about the noise and ultimately results in closure.

The Specials playing Hammersmith Palais, London in 1979. The venue was demolished in 2012 and replaced with luxury student flats. © Gerard McNamara

But help is at hand. And it comes in the form of something called Agent of Change. It’s a bill that the aforementioned organisations have been lobbying for for the last few years. And it would mean that landlords building new homes close to existing music venues would need to pay for, say, soundproofing—be that in the new homes or in the venues themselves to stop noise complaints from shutting down the venues.

It’s an idea that has already been instigated in London thanks to a petition and numerous campaigners including the Music Venue Trust, UK Music, the Musicians’ Union, Jeff Horton, owner of Oxford Street’s legendary The 100 Club ,and Auro Foxcroft, founder of Village Underground, among many others. Because of their actions, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has included in his London Plan 2018 the Agent of Change bill, listed as policy D12.

Sex Pistols performing at The 100 club on Oxford Street, London in 1976. © Ray Stevenson

“This is the culmination of nearly three years of work by Music Venue Trust and our partners to bring proper protection for Grassroots Music Venues to the capital.” note the Music Venue Trust. “It has been fought for hard on our behalf by Frank Turner, Save Soho, and a host of others. Thank you to everyone that signed the petition, that wrote to the Mayor, that fought so hard to protect our Grassroots Music Venues.”

But the campaigning didn’t stop there, because those behind it not only wanted London to benefit from the bill, but the entire country too. And so just recently, after MPs, peers, organisations and musicians—including Sir Paul McCartney, Brian Eno, Chrissie Hynde, Nick Mason, Feargal Sharkey and Billy Bragg—backed the bill and held an event at Westminster to raise awareness of the campaign, Agent of Change will now be enshrined in UK law.

Paul Weller and the Jam play the Rainbow Theatre (aka Finsbury Park Astoria), London in 1979. The venue still stands but is now a church. © Jill Furmanovsky

On 18 January 2018 Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, announced that the UK promised major changes to the nationwide planning policies that the Government expects planning authorities to legally comply with.”

UK Music note that this means “developers [have] to take account of the impact of any new plans on pre-existing businesses like music venues before going ahead with their plans. That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats takes responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a music venue.” They also note that Agent of Change “will be a distinct new part of the amended National Planning Policy Framework” aimed at “protect[ing] existing businesses, such as music venues, when areas are being considered for redevelopment.”

“This is a seismic victory for all those who fought so hard to safeguard the future of music venues across the UK - from grassroots community activists to Britain’s global music stars who have spent years calling for Agent of Change.” said Dugher. “It’s a tremendous boost for the live music industry. It’s great that Ministers have listened and are prepared to work with UK Music and others from the industry, including the Music Venue Trust, to make sure grassroots venues get the support and protections they need.”

Dr Feelgood play the Marquee Club, London in 1975. © Mick Gold

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer many more iconic images of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Specials, the Sex Pistols, Paul Weller and Dr Feelgood as limited edition photographic prints.

Related items

Jimi Hendrix (JH002CONP)

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix reading 'Blonde on Blonde' by Bob Dylan before performing at the Astoria, London in 1967

Prices from £695.00
print
Sex Pistols (SP001RS)

Sex Pistols

Johnny Rotten & Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols performing at The 100 Club on Oxford Street, London.

Prices from £295.00
print
Bauhaus (BAHA001GMCN)

Bauhaus

"Bauhaus were always an interesting band to photograph. With some extreme lighting conditions this gig proved to be somewhat challenging."

Prices from £295.00
print
Dr Feelgood (DRF001GOLD)

Dr Feelgood

Wilko Johnson and Lee Brilleaux onstage at the Marquee Club, London in 1975

Prices from £166.67
print
Jimi Hendrix (JH002RS)

Jimi Hendrix

The Jimi Hendrix Experience performing at the Marquee Club, London in March 1967

Prices from £295.00
print
Who, The (WH001JF)

The Who

Jill Furmanovsky photograph of Roger Daltrey during the rock opera performance of 'Tommy' in 1972.

Prices from £1,200.00
print
Lenny Kravitz (KRAV001DHIN)

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz playing at the Brixton Academy, London, in November 1990 on the ‘Mama Said’ tour.

Prices from £208.33
print
Jam, The (JA010JF)

The Jam

Paul Weller onstage with The Jam at the Rainbow Theatre, London in 1979

Prices from £415.00
print
Ramones, The (RA001JF)

The Ramones

The Ramones energetically performing onstage at The Roundhouse, London in June 1976.

Prices from £1,200.00
print
Specials, The (SPEC001GMCN)

The Specials

This was a great night, one of the best gigs I went to. Being a Two Tone band I just had to shoot in black and white.

Prices from £295.00
print
Specials, The (SPEC002PHGR)

The Specials

A packed house of rude boys and girls bouncing on the sprung dance floor of The Palais made it difficult to hold a camera steady.

Prices from £295.00
print
Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, songwriter & arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.

artist
Who, The

The Who

The Who are an English rock band that formed in 1964 & are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century.

artist
Specials, The

The Specials

The Specials are an English 2 Tone and ska revival band, their music combines a ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude.

artist
Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band formed in 1975. Without them popular culture in the last 30+ years would be very different.

artist
Paul Weller

Paul Weller

Paul Weller is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Weller achieved fame with the punk rock/new wave/mod revival band The Jam.

artist
Jam, The

The Jam

The Jam were an English punk rock/mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were formed in Woking, Surrey.

artist
Dr Feelgood

Dr Feelgood

Dr Feelgood is a well-loved British R&B band hailing from Canvey Island, Essex most known for their singles 'Roxette' & 'Back in the Night'

artist
Colin N. Purvor

Colin N. Purvor

Colin had a strong leaning towards the arts from very early in life, but when a camera was put in his hand, the magic really began.

photographer
Ray Stevenson

Ray Stevenson

Ray Stevenson began working as a music photographer in the 1960's, photographing prolific rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie.

photographer
Gerard McNamara

Gerard McNamara

Although a complete novice, Gerard McNamara's first job was shooting Kate Bush on her Tour of Life at the Hammersmith Odeon, May 1979.

photographer
Jill Furmanovsky

Jill Furmanovsky

Rockarchive founder, Jill Furmanovsky is a British photographer who has documented iconic rock musicians and bands from Pink Floyd to Oasis.

photographer
Mick Gold

Mick Gold

Mick Gold was 18 when he was filled with an ambition to photograph rock music - he went on to shoot some of music's all time greats

photographer
Jimi Hendrix: Every Picture Tells A Story

Jimi Hendrix: Every Picture Tells A Story

Find out the fascinating story behind this iconic Jimi Hendrix image shot by music photographer Colin N. Purbor

News
Jimi Hendrix's Letters to His Dad

Jimi Hendrix's Letters to His Dad

This fascinating letter was written before Jimi Hendrix was famous, with Jimi informing his dad Al Hendrix how his music career was going.

News
Jimi Hendrix's Legendary Monterey Pop Festival Performance Celebrates 50 Years

Jimi Hendrix's Legendary Monterey Pop Festival Performance Celebrates 50 Years

50 years ago Jimi Hendrix played his iconic performance at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival, which took place in the Summer of Love.

News
Roger Daltrey Heads Out on Mini US Tour, Confirms Memoir Release Date

Roger Daltrey Heads Out on Mini US Tour, Confirms Memoir Release Date

The Who’s Roger Daltrey embarks on mini tour in America, and also announced the release date of his long-awaited autobiography.

News