A call for councils to protect pubs

Claire Cain, CAMRA’s Campaigns Manager, writes about the importance of community pubs and the part that councils can play in keeping them open.

This is a call from CAMRA to ask all councils to utilise available powers and tools to ensure local pubs in their communities are protected, as argued in a new report produced with LGiU.

Pubs are a valued and irreplaceable part of local communities. They perform important social and economic roles in creating sustainable communities and can play a crucial part in your work as a champion of your community.

But these small businesses need your support. Pubs are increasingly under pressure and currently 28 close their doors for good every week.

The reasons for a pub closure is not as simple as a badly run business or a changing marketplace, there are many external factors and pressures, which have a bearing on pub survival. Soaring property prices and gaps in planning law mean that too easily a community’s favourite local can be turned into a supermarket, flats or even demolished – siphoning money out of the local economy and damaging community wellbeing and cohesion.

Your constituents care about retaining their local pubs. CAMRA is a not-for-profit consumer campaigning organisation with 165,000 members, every day we are contacted by communities concerned or actively campaigning to save their local. The passion and time dedicated by these groups in navigating the planning system is always extraordinary, they do everything they can but in the end the last line of defence is frequently in your hands.

CAMRA is encouraged by recent national legislation such as the National Planning Policy Framework and Community Right to Bid, which has extended the rights and powers of Local Authorities and communities to protect their local pub. But the extent in which these powers have been adopted and utilised by Councils is a patchwork across the country.

The LGiU and CAMRA’s new report “Public Houses: How councils and communities can save pubs” shares best practice in using these powers to protect community pubs.

The report promotes the many trailblazing councils with regards to pub protection such as Cambridge City who have strong planning policies which recognise the damaging effect pub closures can have on the local community. Cambridge has also introduced an area-wide Article 4 Direction covering 20 pubs so that they cannot be demolished without planning permission. We are grateful to the fantastic work being implemented by our local government but with the high rate of redevelopment and active campaigns across the country we see that more needs to be done.

CAMRA’s key asks of your council, as recognised in the Public Houses report, are that you:

  1. Research, value and be aware of the role pubs can play in communities
  2. Adopt strong pub planning protection in local plans
  3. List pubs as Assets of Community Value
  4. Be aware of and consider the use of Article 4 Directions to give communities a say over their local pub. This is in light of planning law which enables pubs to be demolished or converted into other uses without planning permission.

Please take the time to read the report for more detail and case studies on these asks and CAMRA are here to support in protecting community pub so please contact CAMRA’s campaigns team on campaigns@camra.org.uk for more information.

Photo Credit: treehouse1977 via Compfight cc