The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has launched a public consultation on options to change local planning laws to stop the closure of pubs including asking residents to make a list of pubs they want saved and protected.
The council is asking residents to fill in a consultation and rate a number of options including resisting the loss of any pub which benefits the community or drawing up a list, with local groups, of pubs that are a priority to protect.
The consultation, which closes on 24 April, forms part of the Core Strategy the Council adopted in 2008 to set a policy framework for any future development in the Borough. In it the council claims it is vital to intervene in the market on issues of planning and development to avoid 'increasing homogenisation of Kensington and Chelsea as a high quality residential area'.
If adopted, the protected pubs list would be drawn up with residents groups, land owners and other stakeholders, on the basis of community or architectural merit.
Two a year
Within the consultation form residents are being asked to fill in is a map showing the pubs that have closed, and opened, since 1980. According to the council there has been a 35 per cent decline in the number of pubs in the area since then. The decline from 168 to 110 venues represents an average of two pubs closing each year.
Councillor Tim Ahern, cabinet member for planning policy, said there was a need for intervention.
"We have put together this document because we believe that it's important to look at ways we can protect those places which perform a vital community function. We've lost a lot of pubs over the years and want to do what we can to make sure that the tradition of a pint and a chat in the local pub doesn't vanish because of our high residential land values," he said.
The council says residential land values out compete any other use because of the high costs they can still attract despite the economic condition and uses which command lower values should still be protected.
Restaurants and cafés
Among the options being considered to protect pubs with a community or heritage function includes the use of an 'Article 4' direction to resist a change of use for pubs - a policy that could force the Borough to pay compensation.
The council is also considering extending this option to include restaurants and cafés if it can be proven they are benefiting the community or are a boost to the character or appearance of the area.
The consultation coincides with the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) Community Pubs Month which it says could help the industry when it comes to venue closures.