Currently 28 pubs are closing per week across the UK. Landlords are facing increasing costs, high rents and competition from other types of leisure venue and supermarkets selling cheap alcohol. At the same time land value is rising, which means developers are willing to pay high prices for premises.
The report calls for councils to help slow the closures by recognising the important role that pubs play in local communities and aims to empower them to block conversions from would-be developers.
“Pubs play a vital role in many communities, but across the country this precious resource is being lost at an alarming rate,” said chief executive of LGiU Jonathan Carr-West. “Councils play a crucial part in protecting pubs and we hope that local authorities will draw inspiration from the examples featured in this report and act now to prevent our pubs from disappearing forever.”
Many local councils have announced their support for community pubs. In a recent survey, 45 out of 49 councils agreed that pubs were valued community assets that deserved to be protected. However, 33 of the councils thought that current planning regulations fails to offer pubs protection from being demolished or facing a change of use after being sold.
CAMRA’s head of communications Tom Stainer said: “CAMRA is grateful to the trailblazing councils who are leading the way in pub protection but it is still too few, we want all councils to follow suit and we hope the ideas in this report provide a useful starting point.”
The report highlights that councils can show how pubs are valued in communities by adopting pub protection policies in their local plans and listing the venues as Assets of Community Value. It also suggests councils use ‘Article 4 Directions’ which would make planning permission a requirement for the change in use of a pub.
Help from central Government
CAMRA’s report also targets central Government, requesting that it strengthen local councils’ power by altering national planning law so councils and communities can have a say in pubs being demolished or converted.
"Weak planning laws are a major contributing factor to pubs closing and central Government need to give councils greater powers so they can do more to protect pubs from developers,” said Stainer.
"At the moment Ministers are letting down communities by allowing pubs to be demolished or converted to a whole range of retail uses without any planning permission being required.”