CREATING protected cultural quarters in Scotland’s cities would help preserve its struggling live music scene, campaigners have suggested.

The country’s grassroots music circuit has been hit by a spate of closures in recent years due to licensing and planning issues.

Now industry figures have said drawing up dedicated cultural zones could help guard against inappropriate housing developments, which often lead to noise complaints and even closures.

Analysis: Dedicated cultural hubs could be saviour of gigs for rising talent

Beverley Whitrick, strategic director for the Music Venue Trust – which supports more than 350 grassroots venues across the UK – said similar approaches had been successful elsewhere.

She said: “I know for example in Montreal, there was a large redevelopment of an area where they were specifically creating an outdoor performance space, and studio space for creatives.

“The accommodation that was built there was aimed towards people who work in the creative industries, so that they would understand how the area operated and basically be comfortable with the fact that sometimes it would be noisy or chaotic or creative.”

Giving evidence to a Holyrood committee, Ms Whitrick said similar moves have been floated in Cardiff, where popular music venues on the city’s Womanby Street were recently threatened by new developments.

She added: “There is now a piece of work going on there about protecting that zone for the cultural contribution it brings to the city, and scrutinising any planning applications as to whether they enhance that or endanger it.”

Analysis: Dedicated cultural hubs could be saviour of gigs for rising talent

It comes as the Scottish Government recently confirmed the so-called “agent of change” principle would be included in upcoming planning guidance.

It aims to ensure developers will foot the bill for soundproofing if they build housing near long-running gig hotspots.

Recent venue closures in Scotland include Edinburgh’s Studio 24 and the Picture House, as well as Aberdeen venues Downstairs and Gilcomston Bar, both “as a result of noise abatement notices under existing legislation”.

Speaking to MSPs, Tom Kiehl from UK Music highlighted Scotland's "immense contribution to the music industry".

He said tourists coming to the country for its music scene spent £334 million last year – but estimated 35 per cent of live venues across the UK have closed in the last ten years.

Analysis: Dedicated cultural hubs could be saviour of gigs for rising talent

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

The Scottish Government announced earlier this month that councils would be asked to ensure decisions reflect the principle from now on. It will also be formally included in a new version of the national planning framework which is expected to be adopted in 2020.

Ms Whitrick said grassroots music venues should have "cultural parity" with places such as theatres or arts centres, insisting: “In many instances, grassroots music venues are not recognised formally as cultural venues.”

Analysis: Dedicated cultural hubs could be saviour of gigs for rising talent

She added: "There are very few instances of people moving near to a theatre and complaining that there is noise

"Across the country there are so many from people that move near a music venue and then say, 'Well, people leave late at night or I can sometimes hear music'.

"And for some reason the way that music venues are perceived means that seems okay to complain about in way that about doesn't often happen for more recognised cultural venues.

"It doesn't tend to happen for concert halls or opera houses or theatres."

Ms Whitrick said cultural zones could be appropriate for large towns and cities, but would not work everywhere.

She said Scotland was "leading the way" in protecting music venues from planning disputes.