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2,000 pubs nominated as ACVs shows huge appetite for permanent plans to protect pubs

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: 00.01 27th December 2016

2,000 pubs nominated as ACVs shows huge appetite for permanent plans to protect pubs

Permanent measures to keep pub doors open need to be introduced now, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), as it marks 2,000 campaigning groups across England successfully listing their local pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

Since legislation was introduced in May 2015 which removed Permitted Development Rights from pubs nominated as ACVs, community groups have spent countless hours fighting tooth and nail to ensure their locals are registered, and are therefore subjected to the regular planning application process. Without being registered, pubs can be demolished or converted overnight without public consultation. 

ACVs can be granted on any building that has a proven strong community focus, but pubs have had by far the biggest take up from local communities. Out of just under 4,000 ACVs on building such as libraries, community centres, post offices, half of them have been granted for pubs.

CAMRA is calling on the Government to cut out this frustrating process, which puts a huge burden on local communities and councils, who deal with this lengthy and clunky procedure. Instead, they believe that placing pubs in a class of their own so that owners must always seek planning permission before converting or demolishing a local will provide permanent security for locals.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman says: "It is heartening that so many communities across England have spent so much time going through the process of nominating their pub as an Asset of Community Value. This shows a huge appetite for protecting pubs, which are more than just businesses – they are invaluable landmarks in our communities.

Unfortunately, the ACV process can be time-consuming, fraught with difficulties and at the end of the day is only a temporary measure – listings must be renewed every five years to maintain protection. It simply doesn't make sense that pub-goers have to jump through these extra hoops when it is clear that so many communities overwhelmingly want a say on the future of their much-loved pub. All we are asking for a level playing field where a planning application on a pub has to go through the full planning process."

Ends

Case Studies:

Maidenhead, England

Background: In December 2012, The Golden Harp in Maidenhead was closed and re-developed into a convenience store. Tesco secured a twenty-year lease on the property without consulting the community as it was not a requirement to do so at the time. No amount of public protest, listing the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) or applying for an Article 4 direction could prevent the loss of this beautiful old Victorian coaching inn.

The local Council has assisted various groups, including the local CAMRA branch, to list 10 pubs since the demise of the Golden Harp, but many of these pubs are still under threat. Recently an ACV nomination by patrons of the Farmer's Boy was withdrawn as Greene King contested it on a number of grounds, not least its validity.

Mark Newcombe, CAMRA Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead says: "I am currently Chair of a Community Benefit Society trying to save the Craufurd Arms in Maidenhead which was listed as an ACV last year. Despite the fact that we have organised ourselves and raised funding to take on the ownership of the pub as a community group, we may still be outbid by a developer with pots of cash. The fact that communities are willing to come together and take over the running of pub should count for something when considering the future of our local establishments. We need something to change - the current system is leading to the destruction of too many of our much-loved local pubs and once they are gone they are gone forever."

Contact: Mark Newcombe - 0771 555 1070 / markb.newcombe@btinternet.com

York, England

Background: York has a reputation for being one of the best pub cities in the UK. Despite this there have been attempts by large pub companies to try and convert pubs to supermarkets or flats, many of which have so far successfully been defeated.

A local neighbourhood pub called The Punch Bowl, which makes a positive tangible contribution to the community was put at risk by a planning application from Tesco.  A long concerted campaign by York CAMRA and local residents (including a petition of over 1000 local signatures) eventually resulted in Tesco walking away from acquiring it and turning it into a convenience store. The pub company then did a complete U-turn and signed a long term lease with the licensee. The pub is listed as an Asset of Community Value as well as being protected by an Article 4 Direction – both applied for by York CAMRA and local residents.

Nick Love, Pub Protection Officer, York and Surrounding Areas says: "The current situation puts a huge amount of pressure on councils, such as York, which are in fact pub-friendly. A deluge of ACV applications can overwhelm planning officers with an already heavy workload and cause a logjam in the whole system causing without a doubt councils to fail to meet the 8 week deadline for a decision.

In York, there is a goodwill relationship between the council and CAMRA to ensure we don't submit big numbers of simultaneous ACV applications. That isn't the case elsewhere in the UK and it shouldn't rely on this. Giving pubs automatic protection via legislation would take pressure off councils, save the public purse millions in officer's time and save local communities the worry and burden of having to research and then apply for an ACV to protect their much loved locals."

Contact: Nick Love - 07976 555512 / nl@nicklove.co.uk

Sheffield, England

Background: Sheffield City Council have received 21 ACV applications for local pubs but the vast majority have been rejected and only eight have been successful. Not a single decision has been made within the 8-week deadline and one decision took 51 weeks.

Even when a pub receives an ACV status, community groups still have to fight to save the pub and are often unsuccessful. The Plough in Sandygate received ACV status in 2015. A year later, Sainsbury's asked for planning permission to convert the pub into a convenience store. The planning application received 157 comments, 151 against the development. Since then, the Planning hearing has been postponed twice. We understand that the council have been in discussion with the developers.

Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer, CAMRA Sheffield says: "Our local CAMRA branch has worked tirelessly with the community in Sheffield to try to get beloved pubs nominated as ACVs. Unfortunately our council continues to place obstacles and obstructions in the way of our nominations even if they clearly meet the criteria for registration. We are especially perplexed by the recent decision regarding the University Arms, which was turned down as an ACV without any legitimate reasons. The council seems to be going out of its way to find reasons not to accept nominations by 'gold-plated' their requirements and asking for information well over and above what is legally necessary. Why should local community groups have to jump through hoops to save their beloved local when the Government could simply protect all pubs under the planning system?"

Media Contact:

CAMRA Press Office:
press@camra.org.uk
01727 337863

Notes to Editor:

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 184,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.

Photos for case studies can be downloaded here.