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Government failing local pubs -- CAMRA

Added: Wednesday, December 10th 2014

Ivy House

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, reports that 600 pubs -- including the Ivy House in South London (above), are now listed as Assets of Community Value, following a campaign to encourage local groups to register pubs as ACVs.

But CAMRA say with 31 pubs still closing every week more needs to be done to protect pubs - with the government letting communities down by allowing conversion of pubs to supermarkets without planning permission.

“The government introduced Assets of Community Value to help communities retain valued community assets such as pubs by providing an opportunity to bid for the property if the owner intends to sell. But the scheme is undermined by rules that allow pubs to be converted into supermarket convenience stores and a wide range of other retail uses, without any need for a planning application,” says Tom Stainer, CAMRA Head of Communications.

Evidence collated by CAMRA earlier this year revealed that two pubs a week are converted into supermarket convenience stores, which led to the launch of the campaign's Pubs Matter initiative that asks the government to close the current loopholes and ensure planning permission is always required to convert a pub to other uses.

“The fact pubs are the most listed community asset shows just how much people value their local pub. It is therefore hugely disappointing that the government won’t act to close planning loopholes which allow developers to convert pubs to other uses without the requirement for planning permission," Tom Stainer adds.

“Planning permission is required to convert a convenience store into a pub but no permission is required to convert a pub into a convenience store. The lack of protection for pubs is a glaring anomaly in the English planning system which needs to be corrected. It is surely not right that a supermarket convenience store is given greater planning protection than a valued community pub.”

Asset of Community Value Case Study: Save the Golden Harp

The Golden Harp in Maidenhead was converted into a Tesco supermarket earlier this year. The Golden Harp was a thriving local community pub until Tesco announced plans to convert the property. After an 18 month campaign and the group successfully listing the pub as an Asset of Community Value, it was converted into a Tesco supermarket in June 2014.

Save the Golden Harp campaigner, Mark Newcombe says:

“This case remains a constant reminder of the ineffectiveness of the current legislation and the failure of local democracy to protect community asset”

CAMRA’s Head of Communications Tom Stainer adds:

“Local people are denied a say in the future of their own communities, and this is undermining the Government’s stated aim to empower local communities to protect local facilities such as pubs.  Government ministers are giving communities false hope by suggesting that listing a pub as an Asset of Community Value is the solution to gaps in the planning system when they are clearly not.”