In a bid to protect the night-time economy, Councils are to gain more powers to assist the protection of pubs through the planning system. The amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order), set to come into force on 23 May 2017, will remove permitted development rights which currently allow the demolition and change of use of pubs to other ‘A’ class uses.
A recent audit identified a loss of 1,220 pubs since 2001 in London alone – an average of 81 closures a year. In some Boroughs this has resulted in a loss of over half the number of pubs, which has had a lasting effect on the night time economy and local community.
As a result, the Government put forward amendments to the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 to allow changes in legislation to remove the existing permitted development (PD) rights in relation to the conversion of A4 ‘drinking establishments’. This includes all operations involving the change of use to other ‘A’ use classes, demolition, or a change of use to a mixed use with A3. The amended rules will also introduce new ‘Class AA’ permitted development rights which will allow the change of use from ‘drinking establishment’ to ‘drinking establishments with expanded food provision’ and vice versa. Drinking establishments with expanded food provision may not change to a restaurant without applying for planning permission.
The new measures are intended to help ensure that the loss of drinking establishments does not continue at the current rate, with any conversions requiring a full planning application to justify the loss of the unit. Any application will then be assessed against national and local policy requirements.
Some Councils, such as Southwark, have already taken matters into their own hands through the adoption of an Article 4 Direction that removes permitted development rights in relation to Drinking Establishments. Having experienced a substantial loss of pubs in Southwark, the Council considered it necessary to ensure that planning permission is required for the change of use, demolition or alteration to any pub in the Borough. Whilst the Council recognise that pubs will not always be able to remain operational, and redevelopment may offer the best solution for the site, the Article 4 Direction was made in recognition of the unique historical and community significance of pubs and the contribution which they make to local neighbourhoods.
If you would like to discuss what options there are for a specific pub or any of the above, please feel free to contact one of the Firstplan team.