BBPA and CAMRA divided over planning law amendment

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Change-of-use rule: CAMRA chair Colin Valentine has embraced the amendment
Change-of-use rule: CAMRA chair Colin Valentine has embraced the amendment

Related tags: House of lords, Public house

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) have weighed in over potential changes to permitted development rights for pubs.

The House of Lords voted by a majority of 90 to support an amendment, tabled by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill yesterday (27 February).

The amendment means developers would require planning permission to change the use of a pub.

Currently, a pub can be demolished or converted into a number of other uses without needing to submit a formal application.

Kennedy previously backed calls​ from the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group to add the amendment to the bill​.

CAMRA has claimed when pubs are able to change their use without permission, communities are denied a say on their local’s future and makes pubs a soft target for developers.

CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine said: “There is a huge appetite for pub protection across the country.

“At CAMRA, we see thousands of campaigners across England and Wales fight tooth and nail in local campaigns to save their beloved pubs.

“More than 5,000 people have contacted peers in the past two months to ask them to help protect their local pub through this legislation."

Huge community role

He added: “Pubs plays a huge community role in villages, towns and high streets across the country yet can be lost overnight without the public having a say.”

Shadow spokesperson for communities and local government Lord Roy Kennedy, who is also a CAMRA member and vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group lauded the approval of the amendment.

He said: “It is vital we take the steps needed to protect our pubs so that continue to be the heart and soul of communities.

However, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) opposed the amendment and expressed its concerns.

The trade body has said it would place large and unnecessary burdens on small pub operators.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds explained she understood the wish to protect pubs but said people must consider why current planning rules exist and the importance of the flexibility they offer.

She added: “These days, there are very blurred distinctions between pubs, bars and restaurants.

“If the right to change use were removed for pubs, there is a real concern that a pub could be penalised or indeed, prevented, from increasing its food offering by a local authority planning department."

Change would create uncertainty

She said: “This would inevitably lead to disputes, costs and additional complexity for many small businesses and take up the time of local authorities.

“Such a change would create a lot of uncertainty and have a very negative impact on property values.

“Overall, this change would cause great uncertainty. The assets of community value (ACVs) rules currently offer more than sufficient protection for pubs that are much-loved – something we have always supported.

“At the very least, pubs would need to retain the ability to move from A4 classification, which are drinking establishments, to A3, [which are] restaurants and cafés.”

She urged the Government to consider all the issues when the bill returns to the House of Commons.

She added: “If there were to be such a major change, there should be a full public consultation.”

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill will now go through a third reading before returning to the House of Commons where MPs will vote on it.

Save the Pub Group’s bid to scrap the permitted development rights failed to make it through parliament​ last December.

Related topics: Property law

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