Last edited 22 Feb 2021

Coronavirus planning rules to protect theatres, concert halls and music venues

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On 12 July 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government announced new planning rules to protect our cultural heritage.

The changes will safeguard theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues in England from redevelopment or demolition. This is a response to the threat these venues face due to temporary social distancing restrictions introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councils will now have to take the temporary impact of coronavirus into account when considering applications for change of use, redevelopment or demolition. This move, alongside a £1.57 billion investment programme, is intended to provide extra security to businesses as they make plans to re-open when is it safe to do so, and continue activities outdoors and virtually.

Housing and Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Our theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues are the envy of the world and are central to our cultural heritage. That’s why we’re investing £1.57 billion to protect Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions, as well as ensuring these buildings aren’t destroyed. It is vital they are properly protected by the planning system for both people today to enjoy and future generations.”

Jon Morgan, Director of the Theatres Trust, said: “We welcome the news of revisions to the planning system, which reinforce and increase protections for our treasured theatres and provide reassurance for the communities that use and value them. The COVID-19 lockdown has rendered otherwise vibrant theatres vulnerable to permanent closure and we have already seen a number of theatres fall vacant due to the operator going into liquidation. These measures will help ensure these vital community assets are protected during the current crisis and can be revived to serve their local communities once again.”

A written ministerial statement outlining the changes will have immediate effect and will remain in place until 31 December 2022.


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