London councils 'curb pub openings'

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public house, London

Agent Charlotte Wild: 'Sites are becoming increasingly scarce'
Agent Charlotte Wild: 'Sites are becoming increasingly scarce'
London councils are clamping down on granting planning permission for new drinking outlets, to prevent a “saturation of pubs” and the creation of “binge drinking hubs”, property agents have warned.

Davis Coffer Lyons pubs agent Charlotte Wild told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ that in areas such as Clapham, Putney, Richmond and Hampstead, authorities are refusing A4 permissions to ensure a good tenant mix of retail, restaurants, day-time venues and pubs and bars.

She said, that coupled with an increase in the number of change-of-use applications, this is fuelling higher premiums, a significant increase in competition and a rise in the number of premiums secured for closed sites — leading to operators looking to buy outside of London instead.

Walkabout in Shepherds Bush, for example, was marketed with an asking price of £5m for the freehold and Endurance in Soho was bought for £500,000 for the Enterprise Inns lease (tied).

'Scarce' opportunities

“Sites are becoming increasingly scarce and with no new opportunities coming forward, prices are only going to continue to rise,” she said.

“Landlords and councils are keen to ensure that areas don’t become ghost towns during the day and binge drinking hubs in the evenings.”

Fleurets head of pubs Simon Hall said: “It is a strange conflict that the likes of Westminster are on the one hand concerned about the loss of public houses for conversion to residential, but on the other hand restrict new applications for pub use.”

However, he said that a rise in sale prices is generally due to trading potential and wider economic factors, rather than down to a greater restriction on planning use.

Nick Lyell, associate of licensed leisure at Savills, said London councils are “certainly seen to be conscientious” at ensuring the arrival of a pub does not disrupt or damage the area and due to lack of space in the capital pubs are rarely built from scratch.

However, he said he has seen “savvy operators” convert otherwise redundant space, such as old railway arches, social clubs and town halls, into “new exciting places to drink”.

Simon Chaplin, head of restaurants at Christie + Co, said while the restrictions of planning permission for new pubs is a concern in some key locations, he cannot see the issue spreading across the nation, and many towns and cities are encouraging the “café culture”.

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2 comments

London Councils "curb pub openings"

Posted by John P. Graham,

I was interested to read that some London Councils are refusing A4 planning permission applications for new drinking outlets.

Although some London areas are clearly over-pubbed and additional outlets are far from necessary, this should not be implemented as a "one size fits all" situation.

Your article quotes Hampstead (where I have lived for several years) and we've already lost numerous pubs over the past few years. Currently there is only one pub on the high street (when there used to be four) and two more are currently closed. Fortunately in Hampstead we don't have a large and uncontrollable binge drinking culture, unlike Camden Town and similar areas that are often considered as alternative drinking areas to the west end so I'm at a complete loss as to why Camden Council should bring Hampstead into this equation.

Certainly a good mix of all types of businesses without areas becoming ghost towns during the day and binge drinking hubs in the evening is essential, but all new cases should surely be considered on their merits rather than a blanket ban. After all, one cannot proceed with an application without the proper notices being put in place which provides for public objection and the possibility of refusal.

John P. Graham
Hampstead Village NW3

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double standards

Posted by tonyt,

yet more hypocrisy - which Central London Council leased a unit at their swimming pool to a craft beer outlet - and further allowed drinking on the footpath directly in view of the keep-fit brigade using the gym - in an area already awash with pubs and restaurants... one law for one...

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