Day-to-day pub sales must be allowed to continue unhindered under the Community Right to Buy Scheme, the British Beer and Pub Association has warned.
The Right to Buy forms part of the Localism Bill, which is set to reach the House of Lords next week, and although the BBPA is in favour of the principle of the scheme, it is concerned it could harm the sale of viable pubs in its current form.
Under the scheme, community groups would be able to nominate an asset to be listed with the local authority, and would then have a window of opportunity to organise a bid if the asset was to be sold.
But the BBPA has suggested four safeguards to be added to the Bill, so the Right to Buy could only be triggered:
• When a pub is put up for sale and is at risk of closure
• Is already closed
• Is subject to an application for change of use
• Is subject to a demolition order
"We want to see as many pubs stay open as possible — and 'community right to buy' definitely has a role to play in keeping community pubs open. But many pubs are successfully bought and sold every day, and thrive under their new ownership," said BBPA director of pubs and leisure Martin Rawlings.
"The changes we would like to see would allow transfers of ownership to continue without being help up in costly delays, but retain the benefits and safeguards of the 'community right to buy' proposals, should they be needed. These are common sense changes that deserve support."
The call echoes that made by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers last month. It raised concerns about assignments of leases. "It could introduce an 18-month delay into the process of assigning a pub," said director of strategy Kate Nicholls.