Planning laws hit listed pubs

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Related tags: Town and country planning in the united kingdom, Local government

Licensees of listed pubs could find it impossible to trade under the upcoming smoking ban because of council bureaucracy.Inconsistent local authority...

Licensees of listed pubs could find it impossible to trade under the upcoming smoking ban because of council bureaucracy.

Inconsistent local authority decisions could leave Grade II-listed pubs without outside areas if planning permission is refused, putting them at a serious disadvantage. This may lead to a similar situation experienced in Scotland, where many licensees faced difficulties when trying to prepare for the ban.

The issue was raised by Chris Howard, licensee at the Aire Bar in Leeds, who was refused permission to erect a retractable sun-awning over the rear terrace of the Grade II-listed building because, according to Leeds City Council, "it would have been detrimental to the character of the building and the conservation area".

However, Mr Howard, who plans to appeal, feels he is suffering because of inconsistency within the council. There are nine listed buildings with canopies or awnings within a half-mile radius of his bar, one of which is just next door.

He said: "Ignoring the fact this has already cost me £25,000, without an outside drinking and smoking area I will lose a significant amount of trade."

The case raises questions over problems licensees could face when the smoking ban comes to England and Wales in summer 2007.

Steve Howe, BII membership director, believes Grade II-listed buildings will find it harder to cope because of extra red tape with planning applications. He said: "Each building is tackled on a case-by-case basis as each will have unique characteristics."

Planning advice is expected to be included in new guidance from the Department of Health on how local authorities can best implement the ban. Mr Howe added: "We urge a consistent approach from local authorities to planning and that the guidelines are clear and recognise the need for the trade to have maximum opportunities to adapt. The more simple the process, the less burden of cost and time to licensees."

A spokesman for the local authority co-ordinating body LACORS said: "We hope the guidance will encourage services within authorities to work together to ensure potential problems are addressed at the earliest possible stage.

"LACORS will be working with the Department of Health to produce this guidance for enforcing authorities."

Related topics: Property law

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