'Pub-friendly' Wandsworth Council has issued a blanket Article 4 (A4) direction on 120 pubs and bars in the area meaning any change of use or development of a pub would need approval from the council.
An Article 4 direction can be made by a local planning authority and restricts the scope of permitted development rights either with regards to a specific site or area or a particular type of development anywhere in the authority’s area.
Deputy council leader Jonathan Cook said: “Wandsworth’s pubs are now the best protected in the entire country and have a genuine defence against the relentless spread of mini-supermarkets and estate agents.
"We know how much our residents love their locals and, in many cases, they really are the epicentre of community life. I’m proud and delighted we’ve found a way to protect them."
He added that he hoped other councils will follow and adopt “pub-friendly planning policies” and taking away permitted development rights from local pubs and bars.
“This could be a real turning point for our nation’s superb but vulnerable pub trade and Wandsworth is more than ready to share its approach with other authorities.”
Director of pub heritage and planning consultancy Planning 4 Pubs, Dale Ingram urged other boroughs to do the same and said: “Wandsworth council is to be congratulated for its ground-breaking decision to give robust planning protection to so many important pubs.
“This follows a series of campaigns in recent years to save the Castle and the Prince of Wales in Battersea, and the Wheatsheaf and the Trafalgar in Tooting. This is democracy and the proper exercise of power in action. Please, other boroughs: do you likewise.”
Wandsworth Council has approved new planning guidance that specifically recognises the architectural, historic and community value of the borough’s pubs in preparation for the A4 directions.
The 120 sites were chosen because of their architectural or historic value or because they make a positive contribution to their community and all pub owners have been notified.
Last year, the London council refused a retrospective planning application to a developer who bulldozed a pub without permission, which meant it had to be rebuilt.
Wandsworth has built itself a reputation for being the most pub-friendly borough in London after the pub protection policy of Article 4 was approved by the council’s executive in 2014.