Number of London pubs remains stable

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Successful capital: London mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a plan to continue to help pubs
Successful capital: London mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a plan to continue to help pubs
The number of pubs in London remained stable between 2017 and 2018 after dropping by more than a quarter since 2001, according to new research by City Hall.

The figures from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s City Hall identified a total of 3,540 pubs in the capital in March 2018 – a rise of 10 pubs from 2017.

Some 11 boroughs also saw an increase in pubs, with numbers staying the same in nine boroughs but falling in 13.

Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Hackney, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster saw a rise.

This comes after the mayor revealed, last month, the number of grassroots music venues in London had risen in the past year and the number of LGBTQ+ venues remained stable for a second year running, following a decade of decline for both.

A City Hall survey found three quarters (74%) of Londoners think pubs are important for the capital’s cultural heritage with almost half (45%) visiting a pub at least once a month.

International visitors

The main reasons for the visit is to socialise (68%) and to eat (27%). The survey also stated pubs were an important attraction for tourists with previous research showing 54% of international visitors went to one during their stay in London.

Khan said he was doing everything in his power to support the pub trade and London’s cultural venues.

This included new planning rules to protect venues in his draft London Plan, which featured protecting beer gardens and ensuring new developments are soundproofed, as well as establishing a Culture at Risk Office to help support pubs at risk of closure.

The mayor has also called on the Government to review its valuation policy for pubs following large rises in business rates and ensure pubs are supported.

Khan said: “London pubs have been a key part of our capital’s heritage for generations, helping to unite Londoners and acting as a vital hub in the community.

“Sadly, the numbers have been falling for decades, which is why I have been doing all I can to support the trade and turn this tide of closures.

“I am encouraged by these results but, with pressure form rates, rent and development, it is crucial the Government and local authorities give them their full support too.”

Great resilience

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said it was great to see London pubs thriving, despite economic pressure and political uncertainty.

She added: “Pubs in London have shown great resilience and ingenuity to continue to prosper and cater for constantly changing customer tastes.

“The fact more than a quarter of customers’ main reasons for visiting a pub was for a meal shows how the sector has evolved to meet demand.

“The mayor has shown himself to be a great supporter of pubs and the wider hospitality sector with action to help businesses grow.

“There are legislative pressures such as the late-night levy, however, that threaten to undermine the good work London pubs have managed to do in recent years.

“We hope local authorities in London follow the mayor’s lead and support pubs in their boroughs rather than looking to squeeze them further with additional taxes and restrictions.”

Campaign for Real Ale chief executive Tom Stainer said the organisation applauded the work the mayor’s office has done to highlight the vital role pubs have to play in London, and called for more to be done at other levels of Government to work to prevent closures. 

He added: “We know pubs across the UK, and especially in London, have been struggling with unfairly high increases in business rates bills, while a lot of pub tenants are also squeezed due to having to buy beer through their pub companies at high prices. This means that pubs have to raise their prices, which means that pub going becomes increasingly unaffordable for the average person. 

“Stability is absolutely what beer and pubs in London need right now, which is exactly what we will be telling the chancellor when we next have a Budget. We look forward to working more with the mayor’s office in future to highlight the amazing economic and social value of the capital’s pubs.“

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