Planning Law

Pub demolitions: Blanket protection measures for pubs 'don't work in every case'

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

121 pubs, included the Selkirk, will be protected
121 pubs, included the Selkirk, will be protected

Related tags Demolition Borough Protection

A proposal to give Wandsworth pubs extra protection against developers has been celebrated and led to encouragement for other councils to follow suit.

Wandsworth Borough Council expects that by September next year, Article 4 Directions will be in place on 121 pubs, preventing developers demolishing or changing the use of the pubs without going through formal planning procedures.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said the council wanted to stop pubs becoming supermarkets or estate agents. The pubs, which it plans to protect, have historic, architectural or community value, he added.

"Wandsworth is the first council in the country to apply these powers on such a wide scale. We believe this is an effective way of helping to preserve many of our much loved local neighbourhood pubs," he said.

Geoff Strawbridge, pubs officer at the Campaign for Real Ale’s south-west London branch, said he was "delighted" with the plan and hoped that other London boroughs would follow suit.

But senior trade figures greeted the plan with caution, warning "blanket measures don’t work in every case".

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers urged local authorities to ensure that economically viable pubs that are driving growth in their areas should be able to continue doing so. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The ALMR has long been calling for local authorities to have regard to economic growth regarding planning permissions to ensure that town and city centres remain vibrant and pubs can develop and modernise.

"But neither is it appropriate for pubs and bars to be demolished or converted without the need for planning permission. Pubs make a valuable contribution to our high streets and it is encouraging to see this being recognised."

The British Beer & Pub Association also warned against blanket protection. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "There has to be a balance between protecting an asset of community value, which is really used by the local community, and keeping an under-used pub open, taking customers away from another local pub and making both unviable."

Under current development rights, pub owners do not always need planning permission to demolish a pub or change its use.

Pubs expected to be protected include the Alma, the Ship and the Cat’s Back in Wandsworth; the Bricklayers Arms, Arab Boy and Railway in Putney; the Plough and the Beehive in Battersea; along with the Trafalgar Arms, the Wheatsheaf and the Selkirk in Tooting.

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