Despite the fact that consumers are now spending more than at any point since the financial crisis, the local pub remains under threat, with many of those forced to close in the past year being turned into convenience stores or discount units. However, a new pledge by the government offers the traditional pub a little more protection from developers when secondary legislation is passed later this year.
This week, communities minister Kris Hopkins confirmed that the government is currently in the process of enshrining protective measures for pubs whereby developers will have to seek planning permission to demolish or change the use of a pub listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). At present, more than 600 local pubs have been added to the ACV register by their communities.
As the law currently stands, should a pub listed as an ACV be placed on the market members of the surrounding community will be given six months to raise the funds required to submit a community bid before developers or outside buyers are given the chance to snap it up. Communities also receive support from the government in order to make the likelihood of this resolution higher.
Yet should a developer buy the pub, there is currently no law in place to prevent them from tearing the pub down or transforming it into a store for use by expanding supermarket convenience networks. According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the change in planning laws has contributed to a rise in pub closures, with an average of 29 per week serving their last ever orders at present.
Mr Hopkins pledged to do more to protect valued community pubs in a written ministerial statement.
He said; “We plan to bring forward secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity so that in England the listing of a pub as an asset of community value will trigger a removal of the national permitted development rights for the change of use or demolition of these pubs that communities have identified as providing the most community benefit.
“This provides the right balance between protecting valued community pubs, but avoiding blanket regulation which would lead to more empty and boarded up buildings.”
However, the British Property Federation (BPF) has raised a number of concerns following Mr Hopkins’ statement as it believes the new legislation could have a detrimental impact. The organisation argues that such legislation could prevent or delay much needed development or regeneration works as well as lowering the supply of available commercial space in regional areas.
Assistant director for planning and regeneration at the BPF, Ghislaine Halpenny, says; “The flexibility that comes with the permitted development rights means that buildings where the numbers may not stack up can be converted into another valuable asset for the community.
“Today’s announcement seems to run contrary to this objective – many pubs that are listed as ACVs are simply not making ends meet, so it is perhaps unhelpful to make it more difficult for developers to return them to use.”
Do you think ACV listed pubs should be offered a greater level of protection, or do you agree with the BPF?