Dr Ignazio Cabras said rural pubs are worth between £80,000 and £120,000 to their communities and are “not simply a place for drink but a hub for the community’s infrastructure offering events, support and friendship”.
Cabras, a reader at Newcastle Business School and fellow member of the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA), carried out an 18-month research programme aimed at understanding the importance of pubs in shaping cohesion and social wellbeing.
He told the PMA: “Pubs are not just businesses, they are assets.”
He said pubs were filling gaps in communities that had lost once traditional services.
“In many villages there is no shop, no post office, no local traders but there is still a pub and that pub embodies all that those services provided to the community”, he said.
“So you can see that if lose a pub, you lose much more than just a building. And once that pub is gone it will never come back.”
The report, which was conducted with Dr Matthew Mount of Leeds University Business School and funded by the British Academy, looked at 2,769 English parishes and focused on pubs in rural communities or parishes with fewer than 3,000 people situated at least five miles from towns.
Cabras said he used an index that measured local facilities and looked for evidence of community cohesion and well-being. In 293 parishes the researchers were able to measure this index at its 2000 level and for 2010.
He said: “This was really important because we were able to show that the positive effects of a pub on the community were maintained over that whole period.”
Cabras said he hoped the Government would take notice of his research when reforming planning policy.
He said: “We need a clear definition of a community pub so that councils have the power to protect that. We can see how much the community benefits from having pubs at their heart so planning regulations should reflect that. At the moment, even if a council wants to protect a community pub it does not have the power it needs.”
John Longden, chief executive of Pub is The Hub, said: “In rural areas pubs act as essential melting pots for bringing the community together from all walks of life and this study concludes that it is yet another vital services that the countryside cannot afford to lose.”