Campaigners are celebrating ‘a fantastic victory’ that saw the Government back plans to prevent pubs being demolished or turned into convenience stores without planning applications.
A loophole in planning law has allowed retail chains to quickly turn many pubs into stores in recent years. Campaigners fear this is accelerating the decline of on-trade outlets in communities across the UK, but the Government has announced it will support a measure to close the loophole.
‘The loophole has not only denied local communities a say in their beloved locals’ futures, but also made pubs a “soft target” for developers, contributing to 21 net pub closures every week,’ said CAMRA chief executive Tim Page. ‘The Government’s decision will bring a halt to developers exploiting loopholes and will give communities the right to have a say in the future of their pubs.
‘The decision will not prevent the development of pubs, but will require developers to apply for planning permission to convert or demolish a pub, allowing for members of the local community to express their opinions as part of that process.’
CAMRA campaigners worked closely with the shadow spokesman for communities and local government, Lord Roy Kennedy, who won a vote on this issue in the House of Lords last month, and with ministers, MPs, peers and departmental officials.
Kennedy said: ‘I am delighted that the Government has listened to my amendment to close the loophole that allowed pubs to be lost without the local community having a say. This is a victory for common sense, the much loved British pub and responsible drinkers everywhere.’
Page added: ‘Politicians are chosen to represent the views of those who elect them. We are delighted that in deciding to require owners to apply for planning permission if they want to close a pub, the Government has put the opinions of those who recognise the value that pubs provide to them and their communities above the commercial interests of a few organisations and individuals.
‘This is a fantastic victory for campaigners who have secured the removal of a loophole which allowed pubs to be redeveloped or demolished without reference to the local community or planners.’