The Save the Brighton Dyke group has urged the local authority to issue a Wandsworth-style Article 4 direction, which would mean any change-of-use plans would have to be approved by the council.
Campaigner Ian Fardell told The Morning Advertiser (MA): “Yes, some pubs do need a new lease of life and are not viable, but if we carry on the way we are we’re not going to have anywhere where communities can meet and get to know each other.
“I wouldn’t know a tenth of the people I know if it hadn’t been for [the Dyke].”
Under current amended planning rules, developers are required to notify the local council of their intent to change the use of a pub to retail premises, offices or restaurants.
However, they are not obligated to notify the public – a loophole that pub planning expert Dale Ingram previously told MA highlighted a ‘key failing’ in the rules.
Wandsworth council in London issued a ground-breaking blanket article 4 direction on 120 pubs earlier this year to prevent the loophole being taken advantage of.
Pubs were chosen for protection because of their architectural or historic value, or their value to the community.
Fardell continued: “[The loophole] makes a mockery of the whole ACV (asset of community value) process.”
The Morning Advertiser understands the council's Policy, Resources and Growth committee will vote on the issue on 8 December.
The campaign group submitted an application to list the Dyke as an ACV after owners Martin Webb and Warrick Armsby-Ward transformed the Dyke into a furniture shop called Emporium 'overnight' without notifying staff or customers.
But Webb defended his and Armsby-Ward’s decision to close the Dyke, claiming many campaigners had "never been seen in the pub".
He told local newspaper The Argus the duo had no plans to sell the property, but would be open to the community buying it.
“The pub is shut because it did not make money,” he said, adding: “I’ve run 40-odd pubs in Brighton and I’ve never shut a pub before. So we’ve turned it into a nice store and yet a whole lot of people are complaining – who we have never ever seen in the pub.”
Yet, members of the campaign group have disputed his comments, claiming they have receipts that prove they regularly frequented the pub.
More than 1,300 people signed a petition in favour of granting the Dyke ACV status. Brighton gastropub group Gingerman is understood to have expressed interest in taking on the Dyke.