A post on Lucas's website claimed the live music and comedy venue the Caroline of Brunswick could be sold by pubco Punch to developers, after it was rumoured the site's lease would not be renewed – a claim Punch has denied.
As a result, Lucas is looking to submit an application to register the pub as an asset of community value (ACV) to prevent such a move.
The Green Party’s Lucas has said she will draft a letter of support for the ACV application and has described ‘the Caz’ as a venue that ‘champions alternative music and isn’t afraid to host weird and wonderful experimental live performance’.
She has written to Punch CEO Duncan Garrood asking him for Punch’s reasons for considering not renewing the pub’s lease when the renewal is due next year and has expressed her concern about the number of pubs closing due to large pubcos selling off assets.
A Punch spokesperson denied there was any intention to sell the pub and said there was continued discussions with the licensee about the expiry of their lease agreement.
They added: “We plan to keep the pub open and trading for the foreseeable future.”
Lucas has also called for measures that offer protection to licensees from pubcos and has tabled parliamentary questions and an Early Day Motion to lobby ministers to improve planning rules around the change of use of pubs.
Campaigners have launched a Facebook page called ‘Save the Caz’ to drum up support for the East Sussex pub to get an ACV listing and users have taken to the social media site to voice their backing.
One user said: “We can’t let the Caz close. It’s one of the places in Brighton that makes Brighton what it is.”
Wandsworth Council took a ground-breaking move this summer (August) to be the first local authority in the UK to protect its pubs by removing permitted development rights from 120 venues.
The council issued a blanket Article 4 direction on the 120 pubs and bars in the area, meaning any change of use or development of a pub would need approval from the council.
Lucas wrote to the chief executive at Brighton and Hove City Council to ask whether a similar approach could be adopted in the seaside city.