High property values and planning laws mean that more and more pubs are being targeted for conversion into supermarkets, betting shops, and housing developments. Housing aside, these conversions can happen without planning permission, leaving many communities powerless to keep their local pub.
CAMRA is arguing for Government to close these loopholes, and live up to their promise to give communities power over their neighbourhood, including the opportunity to object to a new development and fight to retain their pub.
Until such a victory is achieved, the Localism Act has provided councils with new powers to list Assets of Community Value (ACV). Once a listed asset goes up for sale it gives the power to “stop the clock” and give time to communities to put in a bid to buy the asset, transfer it into community ownership and protect it from change of use.
CAMRA has launched a campaign to encourage communities to list their local pub as community assets. Our List Your Local campaign aims to get 300 pubs in England listed as ACVs in 2013. We support the growth in community-owned pubs and provide guidance for our members interested in pursuing this route.
However we also advocate that listing a pub as an ACV has value in itself and is a small step in helping with some of the problems attributed to the planning loopholes.
Firstly we hope listing an asset will help deter developers looking for a hassle free purchase.
Secondly it’s ACV status could be used as a material consideration against a planning application. We are awaiting a case study to set this as a precedent.
Most importantly it will put the sale and potential conversion of the pub in the public domain and present the opportunity for the community to have a say. Too often sales of pubs to supermarkets, for example, take place with no community consultation because planning permission is not required.
Listing a pub does not guarantee the conversion won’t take place but it at least means the sale and loss of a community pub does not happen behind closed doors and gives the community or another publican the chance to put in a bid to buy it.
So far around 50 pubs have been listed around the country. One of the most successful of these is the Ivy House in London which was the first pub to be listed as an ACV and has subsequently led to a successful buy-out from the community. Read more about the Ivy House.
We look forward to the campaign developing over the next year and are working to increase awareness around the existence and benefits of these new powers, not just among our members and pub goers but also among local authorities. Despite the scheme coming into play last September many councils are still not prepared to receive nominations.
There are a lot of people out there who are passionate about protecting their valued local pub. We expect to reach the 300 challenge with ease, so we urge councils to find out more about the campaign, and get ready to receive those nomination forms.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a consumer group with 150,000 members who campaign and support real ale and community pubs.
For information about the campaign and guidance notes please go to camra.org.uk/listyourlocal or call the Government-funded Locality advice line on 0845 345 4564