The government’s changes to Permitted Development Rights (PDR) have addressed concerns on the “planning loophole”, which saw developers or big chains demolish or change the use of pubs without planning permission.
Greg Mulholland MP for Leeds North West – described as a "staunch campaigner for this for many years” by a fellow MP - welcomed the move as a “wonderful piece of good news”.
“Finally we have got there. Finally, we have collectively been listened to,” he said during the meeting.
“This is indeed a campaign that has been ongoing for many years. It’s taken longer than expected and hoped for, but we have got there now.”
Mulholland continued to praise and thank Gavin Barwell MP, the Department for Communities and Local Government's Minister of State for Housing and Planning, for listening to his and other campaigners’ concerns on the issues – resulting in the new Government amendment.
The Government's amendment was tabled on Thursday 23 March.
Welcomed legislation change
However, John Redwood MP for Wokingham warned "this does not save every pub".
“Those who are keenest to save their local pub need to make sure there’s enough people who go to use it.
“This is the only ultimate guarantee that the pub will continue to serve.
“This is a welcomed legislation change, but we need to remind people that local government are no more able to save a pub as national government when there isn’t that strong support in the community.”
Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton, said he is pleased the government is acknowledging the role the pub plays in the local community. But, after 21,000 pubs which have closed since his lifetime, McMahon continued to state there is now an “urgency” in getting the amendment through.
Barwell said he hoped the changes will be brought in before July.
A note of mild caution
Richard Graham MP for Gloucester wanted to “strike a note of mild caution” during the meeting, and asked the minister if he had “thought carefully about the possible unintended consequences” of his amendment.
“It would be a cruel irony if in trying to protect pubs this addition to the bill actually triggered sales of pubs by some of the small owners and increase the stranglehold of larger pub companies,” he said.
“There are times, when trying to manage too finely what happens to our pubs we can end up with unintended consequences.
“My concern is that there are some who are worried this sort of change could threaten publicans with the lenders and banks who finance them, who may lend more willingly on the understanding that should the pub fail, there will always be value to the buildings for other uses.”
Barwell reassured Graham that unintended consequences had been considered.
“Listened to our concerns”
Commenting on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill’s progress through Parliament, Brigid Simmonds chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “I am very pleased that the Government has listened to our concerns and brought forward a new proposal for pubs today, in the House of Commons.
“We had been very concerned that food-led pubs would have been disadvantaged by the House of Lords’ original amendment. But today’s vote, on an alternative proposal from the Government, means that pubs will remain in the A4 use-class, rather than being placed in a class of their own. This will ensure they have a specific right to extend the restaurant use of the pub, without requiring planning permission.
“I hope local authorities will also note that the new legislation should also remove any incentive for them to pursue Article 4 directions and for ACV ‘mass listings’. This would also be a very positive step for our members.”
Colin Valentine, CAMRA national chairman, added: "We are delighted that MPs across the House supported this amendment; a cause which CAMRA members have been campaigning on for many years.
"We welcome the Minister's commitment to bringing in the legislation by July. What we would now ask is that all pub companies, supermarkets and developers work in the spirit of the law and make a commitment to submitting planning applications for any conversions or demolition of pubs from today through until the law change."
The amendment will now return to the House of Lords before going for Royal ascent.