PROTECTION for live music venues and theatres should be written into the law as part of a shake up of the planning system, MSPs have told SNP ministers.

Holyrood’s local government committee said a new Planning Bill should include the “agent of change” principle, which forces builders to soundproof houses put up near existing venues.

It follows a number of venues, such as Studio 24 in Edinburgh, being forced to close following complaints from the residents of new properties built nearby.

The government supports agent of change, but has suggested non-binding guidance will be enough.

The committee also criticised the government Bill for not doing enough to address widespread community frustrations with the planning system, and said developers should only be allowed to appeal decisions by councils in “certain circumstances”.

Opposition parties said the legislation, as drafted, would over centralise planning powers.

The committee called for the Bill to include more statutory input from local communities.

Committee convener Bob Doris said: “More disadvantaged communities could lose out on shaping their local areas because of a lack of money, time and capacity, which we think may widen inequality. That’s why we’ve called for communities to be supported so that planning works for everyone.”

On agent of change, he added: “We think it is unreasonable for those moving into a new development to be able to complain about pre-existing noise levels, which can result in music venues closing their doors because it's too costly to mitigate that noise.”

Tory MSP Graham Simpson said the Bill was a “sinister power grab by ministers”.

He said: “The committee has pushed back against the draconian move to create a planning enforcer, it has said no to forcing councillors to have mandatory training, and we have said that communities should be fully involved at every stage of the planning process.

“There is nothing in the Bill which would deliver anything - more housing, better communities, or a better environment. It’s all about power.”

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said ministers had misread the public mood on planning.

She said: “We support calls to level the playing field and equalise planning rights.

"Planning appeals should be the exception in a plan-led system but in situations where appeals are justified, we believe communities should have rights too.”

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart said the government would respond “in due course”.

He said: “The aim of our reforms is to create an effective planning system that will help deliver the housing, infrastructure and investment that current and future generations need. The proposals in the Bill have been developed through an extensive process of engagement with stakeholders, and are based on the recommendations of an independent panel.”