Licensees outraged by ACV status listing

By Emily Sutherland

- Last updated on GMT

Licensees outraged by ACV status listing

Related tags: Pubs, Public house, Oxfordshire

Backlash mounts over pubs recorded as ACVs.

Two licensees have hit out against their pubs being awarded asset of community value (ACV) status.

Steve Coxshall, owner of the Duke of Hamilton, which is one of the 12 pubs being considered as part of blanket ACV listing submitted to Camden council by a community group in Hampstead, north London, described the locals as “hypocrites who just want to be heroes”.

“None of the locals who have put this application forward drink in my pub. Practice what you preach: the only people who save pubs are the people who put cash behind the bar. About 95% of the people who come and see the theatre and live music at my venue aren’t from Hampstead.

“Locals aren’t the ones who are feeling the financial pain and they aren’t the ones who have to pay the rent.”

His comments join a growing backlash from independent licensees over ACVs. Freeholder Stuart Matthews of the Bull Inn, Charlbury, west Oxfordshire, voiced his anger after his pub was given an ACV when he applied for planning permission to convert it into dwellings.

Matthews said: “I understand that ACVs can be enormously helpful in protecting pubs against large developers but we’re a private enterprise with just one site. We applied to change the use of the site on the basis the town is well subscribed with alternative venues. Even selling the pub wasn’t an option because pub prices have been so decimated.

“Communities can apply for pubs to be ACVs but there’s no law that says they have to use the pubs. It’s handcuffs slapped on you by a very one-sided piece of legislation.”

Charlbury, a town of 2,000 people, has another three pubs alongside numerous sports and social clubs and cafés.

West Oxfordshire district council said that the Bull Inn met the criteria for an ACV and was therefore listed accordingly but declined to comment further.

Matthews contacted his local MP, Prime Minister David Cameron, about the listing, who confirmed he had spoken to the district council and been assured the correct processes had been followed.

Steve Culverhouse, an ex-licensee who now runs pub consultancy firm change-of-use.com, warned ACVs can often rule out fast or urgent sales and leave little incentive for entrepreneurs to revive listed pubs due to the six-month waiting period.

Related topics: Legislation

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Two years on...

Posted by Charlbury resident,

...the Bull in Charlbury is thriving under new ownership, you have to book a long while in advance to get a table at weekends, and the town and surrounding area have really taken it to heart. It has become a real asset for the town. In this case ACV status was right and the (now ex) landlord was wrong.

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Re: the Editor's article

Posted by david,

Thank goodness for some informed and intelligent comments from James and Ian (on the Editor's Opinion thread).

It’s difficult to see why anyone who is interested in preserving pubs should object to ACVs (and I suspect any objection to their use is grossly overstated). Reporting that includes words like “outrage” and “backlash” to describe pub freeholders who see ACVs as overly restrictive doesn’t sound to me like freeholders who want to trade their pubs or even sell them for continued pub use.

If the owner of a pub wants to sell it as a pub, the fact that it is ACV listed should have absolutely no impact on his objective other than him having to notify the local authority of his intention to sell and then allowing 6 weeks for community groups to indicate whether they want to implement a moratorium – but why would they if the sale does no more than transfer ownership of a going concern?

Hence in reality an ACV comes into play only when a pub is under threat of closure and/or conversion for alternate use. Those who want to snipe at the relevance of ACVs ought to ask themselves as to how we got here. ACVs would have never come into being if the planning system had provided proper protection for pubs and/or it had not been so ruthlessly exploited by Pub Cos who must have thought all their birthdays had come at once by being able to flog-off pubs ruined by their operating model for vast profits to pay down vast debts.

As for Hampstead, and Otley with its 19 pubs, as the community doesn’t know which pubs might become the subject of shady deals between freeholders and developers, it’s decided to get its defences erected in advance. That doesn’t mean the intention is to retain all pubs – but merely to prevent the futures of pubs being determined solely between freeholders who want cash for real-estate and developers willing to pay lots of cash to make more cash out of real-estate.

The ownership of real estate does not confer rights to the exclusion of all the rights of others.

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Posted by Robert Feal-Martinez,

As the Editor's article rightly says there is a growing anger and disquiet at pubs being made ACV's without prior consultation and frankly are nonsensical.

It is impossible to believe that all the pubs in Otley were either under threat or ACV's in the first place.

I know Otley, I have extended family there and there simply isn't a need for so many pubs, there hasn't been for years.

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