Waltham Forest considering borough-wide Article 4 Direction for pubs

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Community pubs Kris hopkins

The Heathcote Arms in Leytonstone was recently sold to Equity Real Estate
The Heathcote Arms in Leytonstone was recently sold to Equity Real Estate
Waltham Forest Council is looking into issuing an Article 4 Direction on all pubs in the London borough, following a petition from local residents after five pubs in the area were lost in five weeks.

Locals campaigning to save the Heathcote Arms in Leytonstone called on the council to use the measure to prevent the pub being demolished and turned into flats or a supermarket. The pub was recently sold to Equity Real Estate.

An Article 4 Direction requires the building’s owner to apply for planning permission should they wish to change its use or demolish it.

Clare Coghill, cabinet member for economic growth and high streets at Waltham Forest Council, said: “We are considering whether to issue an article 4 regarding the loss of pubs on a borough-wide basis.”

However, Emma Griffiths, of the Save the Heathcote group, said local authorities are “often left with little power” and has called on community pubs minister Kris Hopkins to do more to help protect pubs on a national basis.

'No hard levels of protection'

“The loss of our pubs is a huge issue for the borough with five pubs lost in five weeks. As yet, there are no hard levels of protection in place and the pub is still very much under threat,” she said.

“What we really need is support from the Government rather than the local authorities. The pubs minister Kris Hopkins should be doing more to help protect our cultural heritage from above as local authorities are often left with little power and have their own financial agendas. 

“We have got the Heathcote Arms listed as an Asset of Community Value which although allows some degree of protection we can't help but think that this could be strengthened to give more weight as gives little support once a pub has been sold. There also seems to be so many planning loopholes that could be closed in order to further protect our public houses.”


The group’s petition​ on an Article 4 Direction has more than 1,000 signatures and has been backed by Campaign for Real Ale, Blur frontman Damon Albarn and comedians Alan Davies, Arthur Smith and Sean Hughes.

Albarn said: “The more we get rid of traditional pubs the more we forget who we were...The more we forget who we were the less we know who we are. Save the Heathcote."

Government response

Community pubs minister Kris Hopkins said: “Local pubs are part of the social and cultural fabric of this nation and we are determined to protect them. This government has already abolished the unpopular beer and alcohol duty escalators, cut business taxes for pubs and armed communities with the right to protect their treasured local from closure by listing it as a community asset. “While permitted development rights play an important role in the planning system providing flexibility, reducing bureaucracy and allowing best use to be made of existing buildings, local councils can use the powers we made available to them to remove these rights and ensure the change of use from a pub requires a planning application.  “As local gatekeepers of the democratic process, councils should be using use their powers appropriately to play their part in protecting one of our national treasures, the Great British Pub. We are currently considering what further steps can be taken to protect community pubs whilst avoiding the blight of empty, boarded up property.”

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