Labour peer Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark backed previous calls from the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group (APPSPG) to add an amendment to the bill to remove permitted development rights for pubs.
Speaking at the second reading of the bill in the House of Lords, Lord Kennedy said: "I also give notice to the minister that we shall be proposing an amendment in committee to remove the permitted development rights for pubs in England and to place pubs in a class of their own.
"Permitted development rights allow the change of use of pubs to retail and temporary office use without planning permission, with communities denied a say over the loss of valuable community assets. We are presently seeing 21 pubs close a week. That is most regrettable and we need to act save our pubs."
Now the proposal has been submitted, it will be debated at the committee stage of the bill, which will take place in the coming weeks. If the committee agrees to add the amendment to the bill, it will then go back through the House of Lords before being considered by the House of Commons. If the amendment passes these stages, it will then become law.
CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) supported Lord Kennedy's intervention. Group national chairman Colin Valentine said: "We have seen communities across England go through the process of nominating their pub as an asset of community value (ACV). This shows a huge appetite for protecting pubs, which are more than just businesses – they are invaluable landmarks in our communities.
"Unfortunately, the ACV process can be time-consuming, fraught with difficulties and at the end of the day is only a temporary measure – listings must be renewed every five years to maintain protection. It simply doesn’t make sense that pub-goers have to jump through these extra hoops when it is clear that so many communities overwhelmingly want a say on the future of their much-loved pub.
"We thank Lord Kennedy for his sensible proposals and hope that they are carried forward in the bill."
'They deserve better protection'
A similar amendment was previously supported by then chair of the APPSPG, Greg Mulholland, and opposed by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The APPSPG sought to add a clause to the bill called New Clause 9; this would have also removed permitted development rights for pubs and put them into a class of their own for planning, but was ultimately defeated in the House of Commons.
At the time, Mulholland said: "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."
The BBPA, however, was unsupportive of the change. "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," the group's chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said.