CAMPAIGN FOR REAL ALE CALLS FOR GREATER PROTECTION FOR LONDON'S PUBS

The Greater London Region of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) recently submitted a report to London Mayor Boris Johnson highlighting the shocking rate of pub closures in the capital and calling for greater protection through the planning system. The report from CAMRA formed part of the public consultation on the draft further alterations to the London Plan (FALP), which closed on 10th April 2014.

CAMRA continues to campaign nationally for planning loopholes to be closed. These loopholes, which allow pubs to change into supermarkets, betting shops or cafes without the need for planning consent, contributed to the national weekly net closure of 28 pubs between April and September 2013. London loses around 90 pubs every year.

In addition to some rewording of the existing draft section 4.48A, which recognises the important role played by London's pubs, CAMRA has asked the Mayor to consider three important measures:

  1. Removal of permitted development rights on all London pubs. This would result in any future change of use being subject to planning consent and therefore allowing Londoners a voice in the process;
  2. The option for London Boroughs to refuse change of use on any pub that is registered as an Asset of Community Value. Such examples include the Antwerp Arms in Tottenham and the Chesham Arms in Hackney;
  3. The protection of pub use by planning condition on mixed use developments or partial residential conversions.

Regional Director Geoff Strawbridge said "While we welcome the added recognition of pubs within the draft further alterations to the London Plan, London property prices make pubs especially vulnerable to speculative purchase for alternative site uses. Given the vital and unique role that pubs play within our communities, the demolition or change of use of any pub should now be subject to planning controls".

Following the submission of the report to the Mayor, and building on the momentum of a renewed mandate on planning reform via a motion carried at CAMRA's national annual conference in April, the campaign will be hosting a pub protection seminar, aimed at local planning authorities, councillors, community groups and any Londoner interested in saving and preserving the capital's iconic pubs. The event is free and will take place on Saturday 31st May from 12 noon at the Melton Mowbray on Holborn. Confirmed speakers include Tom Copley AM, Labour Assembly Member and Housing Spokesman, and Bill Linskey, Chair of the Brixton Society. Further details and registration information can be found here.

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NOTES

[1] CAMRA is the largest single issue consumer rights organisation and campaigning group in Europe with 162,000 members. The campaign champions the rights of responsible drinkers and promotes real ale, cider and perry and the culture of pub-going at the heart of British society.

[2] Registration of pubs as Assets of Community Value (ACVs) gives relevant community interest groups the opportunity to bid to purchase and take over the operation of the pub if the building is put up for sale. Over 350 pubs in the UK have been listed as Assets of Community Value since the legislation came into force in September 2012. Pending any such opportunity, ACV registration does not remove permitted development rights.

[3] Delegates at CAMRA's national conference in Scarborough on 26th April voted to mount a hard hitting campaign to secure the closure of planning loopholes which allow the unnecessary loss of pubs, highlighting the Government's unwillingness to take meaningful measures to protect our pubs by changing planning regulations.

This Press Release was sent by CAMRA Press Manager Neil Walker on behalf of the Greater London Region of CAMRA.

For further information contact:

Geoff Strawbridge - ku.oc.hcet-tnerehoc@ffoeG
James Watson - gro.eei@nostawj
Paul Ainsworth - ku.gro.armac@htrowsnia.luap