Planning protection for pubs gains support

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Community Public house Westminster system Bill

Greg Mulholland and Nigel Adams: in support of protecting pubs
Greg Mulholland and Nigel Adams: in support of protecting pubs
A bid to make it harder for "unscrupulous developers" to demolish pubs and community assets could be included in the Decentralism and Localism Bill.

A bid to make it harder for "unscrupulous developers" to demolish pubs and other community assets could be included in the Decentralism and Localism Bill.

MP Nigel Adams, who is behind the Protection of Local Services (Planning) Bill, said although he was getting a "warm feeling" on his Private Members' Bill from Government ministers, he believes one route could be to get it incorporated into the Coalition's own Bill.

Adams' bill seeks to close the loophole on planning law that allows community assets, such as pubs, to be demolished without planning permission and without the community having a say. It also seeks to close the loophole allowing change of use — for example a pub becoming a betting shop — without planning permission.

"Essentially what the bill does is block the loophole that in some cases allows some unscupulous developers to demolish buildings," Adams told the Save the Pub Group meeting at Westminster.

Adams said the bill "ticks a lot of boxes" on the Coalition agenda in terms of giving power back to the people, the Big Society and because it is light touch and would not add to costs for local authorities. They would be able to opt in to the bill in much the same way as they can with the Sustainable Communities Act.

"Ministers have made very encouraging noises," said Adams.

"But the vibes I am getting is that the bill won't be heard on 21 January because it is third on the list. It means we have to work that little bit harder to get on the Government agenda.

"I am not bothered about how we achieve that."

Perfect fit

The Decentralism and Localism Bill was cited as the most likely bill for the plans to be included in because it includes the right to buy scheme for community assets.

CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner said the Adams' bill was about popularity and democracy. He said 69% of people polled think pubs are just as valuable a community asset as shops and post offices, 81% think the community should be consulted before a pub is demolished and 43% would be willing to get involved in a campaign to save their pub.

He said of the 5,000 pubs that have closed since 2008, one third have been demolished, one third were for alternative use and the final third have become private housing.

"This is a very light touch and flexible solution," he said. "It doesn't seek to make it difficult for change of use if a business is unviable, it just seeks due process."

Benner said the Decentralism and Localism Bill was the "perfect fit" for the proposals because it is hard to give a community the right to buy if an asset has already been demolished.

Save the Pub Group chair Greg Mulholland said he was "very excited" about the proposals. "Communities have moral ownership of community assets, like the pub," he said. "But actually they have such little say and that can not be right."

He asked licensees to lobby their MPs to support the move.

The Protection of Local Services (Planning) Bill has garnered a broad range of support from groups including Living Streets, Supporters Direct, GMB, Local Works and Community Matters as well as CAMRA.

• Get Involved: Write to your MP asking him/her to support Nigel Adams bill. Find your MP by clicking here

Related topics Property law

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