Trade concern over plans to veto new town centre pubs

Related tags Town centre pubs Planning permission Local government Zoning Government

New planning powers that would give local authorities greater scope to veto new town centre pubs have raised concerns within the trade. There are...

New planning powers that would give local authorities greater scope to veto new town centre pubs have raised concerns within the trade.

There are fears that councils will have more freedom to refuse new licences as a matter of general policy, rather than having to set out specific objections to a particular outlet or operator.

Planning minister Lord Falconer has put the Government's proposals for a review of Use Classes Orders (UCOs) out to consultation. UCOs split land and businesses into categories according to use.

The proposed change would exempt users from having to apply for planning permission when they want to change within a category - for example, from a shop to a hairdresser.

The Government believes that some uses are so similar in terms of the noise, traffic and parking they generate, it creates unnecessary red tape applying for planning permission when the business changes.

However, while the overall aim is to deregulate the planning regime, the Government has indicated that local authorities would have more power to restrict change of use where there were local concerns about the number of new licensed premises.

The trade is understandably concerned that this could see the controversial Westminster Council model - where new late licences are opposed on principle - proliferate across the UK.

Westminster is among the local authorities supporting the proposals, which also have the backing of the Local Government Association.

Lord Falconer said that although the overall aim is to cut down on the number of unnecessary planning applications, the review of "UCOs would aim to strike a balance between market freedoms and the need for control of certain types of activity".

"We need the maximum possible deregulation consistent with delivering planning policy and wider objectives," he added. "But this does not mean that we want to encourage a free-for-all where there is a real need for the planning system to protect people's neighbourhoods.

"For example, we know that many people are concerned about the proliferation of noisy bars and nightclubs, often within small areas which can include residential accommodation."

The British Beer and Pub Association has a working party considering the proposals, and will submit a formal response. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers is also consulting members on the plans. The consultation period runs until the end of April.

Related stories:

Westminster council given approval on restriction of late licenses (21 December 2001)

Related topics Property law

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