MPs seek to end pub planning rights ‘scandal’

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pubs Retailing

CAMRA says two pubs each week were converted into supermarkets between January 2012 and January 2014
CAMRA says two pubs each week were converted into supermarkets between January 2012 and January 2014
MPs from the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group have tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, seeking to “end the scandal” of pubs being demolished or turned into supermarkets without planning permission.

If New Clause 16​ (NC16) is passed, planning permission will be required before a pub can be knocked down or converted into a retail store or office.

Currently permitted development rights allow buildings in use class A4 (which includes pubs) to be turned into A1 buildings (including retail stores and supermarkets) without planning permission.

Recent research from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which is also calling for the change in planning law, reported that two pubs each week were converted into supermarkets between January 2012 and January 2014. This is part of the 31 pubs a week on average it claims are closing across the country.

NC16 was tabled by MP Charlotte Leslie (Con) and has been backed by MPs Greg Mulholland (LibDem), Grahame Morris (Lab) and Caroline Lucas (Green).

Permitted development rights

Mulholland, who is chair of the Save the Pub Group, said ministers have long-argued that pubs can be listed as assets of community value, but this does not remove the permitted development rights attached to them. He added that Article 4 Directions, which councils can introduce to remove permitted development rights, are also ineffective, labelling the process as “complex, with legal pitfalls” and “coming with a risk of compensation”.

CAMRA estimates that out of 48,000 pubs, only about 30 have been subject to Article 4 Directions.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has already proposed that planning permission is needed before certain buildings can be turned into a betting shop. Mulholland said this provides “a clear precedent” and NC16 “merely extends this to pubs being turned into retail stores”.

'It's not right'

He said: “If government is serious about localism and giving more power to communities, it must let them object when Tesco come in and want to turn their local pub into a supermarket.

“At the moment, Tesco don’t need planning permission to do so - this is not right, nor is it genuine localism. Communities deserve a say in the future of their local pub. The simple question is whether government and MPs support the right of communities to have a say, or whether they oppose it.”

Charlotte Leslie MP added: “Communities across the country are seeing local pubs being turned into supermarkets despite the opposition of local residents who don’t want to see the loss of a much-loved local pub. It is time we ended this scandal and gave local people a say in the future of their pubs - that is what this simple and reasonable amendment will do.”

'Gaps in planning law'

Tom Stainer, head of communications at CAMRA, added: "Pubs are increasingly being targeted by those wishing to take advantage of the absence of proper planning control.

"A pub is an entirely different proposition to a convenience store, estate agent or funeral directors and the planning system needs updating to reflect this fact.

"It is time for the government to stop standing by while pubs are being targeted due to gaps in planning law."

MPs are due to discuss the amendment on Monday (26 January) during the Bill’s report stage in the House of Commons.

Related topics Property law

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