Councils urged to play by ACV rules following delays

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

The Star in St John’s Wood closed without warning last month
The Star in St John’s Wood closed without warning last month

Related tags Westminster city council Maida vale City of westminster

Licensees and pub campaigners have urged local councils to play by the rules when it comes to responding to applications to list pubs as assets of community value (ACV), as the future of outlets in the capital are increasingly threatened by developers.

Industry figures claim that some councils are not responding to applications within the required eight-week deadline, putting pubs that could be saved at risk.

If a pub is ACV-listed it means the community has six months to make a bid to purchase the property if it is put up for sale. Earlier
this month the Government strengthened the legislation so planning permission is now required to change the use of or demolish ACV-listed pubs​.

There is now also a requirement for any intended purchaser to make a formal enquiry to a council to ask whether a pub is listed or is the subject of a nomination.

Delays in responses

However, Dale Ingram, director at consultancy Planning For Pubs, said it was “very disappointing” that some local authorities were not embracing the letter of the legislation.

Letters from Westminster City Council, seen by the PMA​, show that the authority took 11 months to res-pond to two applications
to list the Star and the Clifton Hotel, both in St John’s Wood, which were listed in February.

The Star, which was sold by Punch Taverns to developers in December 2013, closed last month without warning and a makeshift sign for “Champion Estates” was erected. This is despite the fact the council has a policy stating that the loss of pubs “will only be acceptable if they have been vacant and marketed for at least 18 months without success”.

Ingram said Westminster council had so far failed to respond to two further applications that were submitted in March 2014.

“No reason has been given by Westminster for why they are taking so long. Perhaps they hope that their residents will become disheartened and give up.

“Along with the removal of permitted development rights, ACV protection has given local communities much more say over what happens to their much-loved local pubs.”

Lost pubs

Greg Mulholland, chair of the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, said: “It is clear that some councils are taking far too long to decide on ACV applications, which is denying communities the right to protect their local pub — as well as seeing pubs lost that could and should be saved.”

Licensee Mary Jane Roberts-Fishwick applied for an ACV listing at her pub, the Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, due to fears it is under threat from takeover by her private landlord. She said if she does not receive a response by the deadline next month she will take Westminster Council to judicial review for not following the statutory process, due to its “poor track record” for responding in time.

Vinny Mulhern, of the Duke of Wellington in Spitalfields, also submitted an ACV application after developer owners Mendoza applied for permission to convert the pub into flats. He warned publicans against taking leases in London due to the increasing threat of conversion to residential use.

Despite repeated requests from the PMA, Westminster City Council failed to provide a comment.

Related topics Property law

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