‘Targeted by supermarkets’: Save the Pub Group could protect pubs under amended planning law

By Sara Hussein

- Last updated on GMT

Greg Mulholland: “The current loophole leads to predatory targeting by supermarkets of viable pubs"
Greg Mulholland: “The current loophole leads to predatory targeting by supermarkets of viable pubs"

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The Parliamentary Save the Pub Group has put forward an amendment to planning proposals that would give more protection to pubs. 

The group wishes to include a new clause in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, which would require planning permission to demolish pubs or turn them into other venues.

Under the current legislation pubs can be demolished or have their uses changed without planning permission, unless they are listed as assets of community value (ACV).

‘Predatory targeting by supermarkets’

Group chair Greg Mulholland MP said yesterday (Tuesday 13 December): “The current loophole around permitted development rights leads to predatory targeting by supermarkets of viable pubs and this must stop.

“Britain’s pubs are so often the heart of our communities and they deserve better protection in the planning system.

“That’s why we have tabled this amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, and I hope MPs who back their local pubs will vote in favour of it.”

The decision follows the group’s amendment to the Infrastructure Bill in January 2015, which allowed an ACV pub temporary protection against development.

‘Biased against pubs’

There are currently 1,600 ACV-listed pubs but, despite this, an average of 21 a week are still closing across the UK, according to figures from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Vice-chair Caroline Lucas MP said: “Pubs clearly need more protection in the planning system.

“The current rules are biased against pubs — and make it far too easy for these vital community assets to be replaced by supermarkets.

“This simple change could be a game-changer for our pubs and our communities and I hope MPs support our amendment.”

‘No one benefits’

Meanwhile British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has urged MPs not to support the proposal.

Simmonds claimed that, currently, the community rights not only offer protection for pubs, but can also give locals the right to bid for a site if it is placed on the market.

She added: “If a pub is no longer viable and is boarded up while awaiting planning permission to change its use, no one benefits and this would be the likely consequence of this proposal.

“It would also mean planning permission would have to be gained for pub improvements, including alterations to the property, such as new fences, signage, internal walls, kitchen developments, and bar extensions.

“This would add to costs and red tape for the sector, which we must remember also includes many individual licensee pub owners, for whom the premises can be their only significant asset.”

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