Following a successful campaign led by the Campaign for Real Ale, the Government has announced that it will support a measure to close a planning loophole in England which has allowed pubs to be demolished or converted to a wide range of retail uses without any planning application.
This has not only denied local communities a say in their beloved locals’ futures, but also made pubs a ‘soft target’ for developers, contributing to 21 net pub closures every week.
The Government’s decision will bring a halt to developers exploiting loopholes and will give communities the right to have a say in the future of their pubs. The decision will not prevent the development of pubs, but will require developers to apply for planning permission to convert or demolish a pub, allowing for members of the local community to express their opinions as part of that process.
CAMRA campaigners worked closely with the Shadow Spokesman for Communities and Local Government, Lord Roy Kennedy, who won a vote on this issue in the House of Lords last month, and with Ministers, MPs, Peers and departmental officials.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark said: “I am delighted that the Government have listened to the Lords my amendment to close the loophole that allowed pubs to be lost without the local community having a say. This is a victory for common sense, the much loved British pub and responsible drinkers everywhere.”
CAMRA Chief Executive Tim Page said: “Politicians are chosen to represent the views of those who elect them. We are delighted that in deciding to require owners to apply for planning permission if they want to close a pub, the Government has put the opinions of those who recognise the value that pubs provide to them and their communities above the commercial interests of a few organisations and individuals. This is a fantastic victory for campaigners who have secured the removal of a loophole which allowed pubs to be redeveloped or demolished without reference to the local community or planners. The decision to respond positively to CAMRA’s campaign is further evidence of Government’s support for the pub sector and follows on from the decision earlier this month to provide most English pubs with a £1,000 discount in the business rates they pay.”
“This announcement is the result of the work of thousands of local campaigners and CAMRA members who have been calling for an end to the loopholes in existing legislation that have been used by developers to close wonderful, viable and well-supported local pubs. This change also wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of Lord Kennedy in securing the support of the House of Lords earlier this month. Lord Kennedy’s efforts to support the future of local pubs at the heart and soul of communities will benefit pub goers for generations to come.”
“This change delivers real and robust protection to valued community pubs, which previously have relied on communities going through the bureaucratic process of securing Asset of Community Value (ACV) listings, or local authorities choosing to use complex and obscure Article 4 directions.
“We will work with the Government to ensure these measures are implemented as soon as possible to allow pubs across England to start benefiting from the protection of the planning system.”