Property & Planning / 28 February 2017

Today’s House of Lords amendment on planning would cause uncertainty for pub trade, says BBPA

The BBPA has expressed concerns today, at an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill in the House of Lords, that would prevent pubs undergoing a change-of-use without planning permission. The BBPA says the amendment would place large and unnecessary burdens on small pub operators.

The ‘Change of use of drinking establishments’ amendment was tabled by Lord Kennedy of Southwark after Clause 13, and aims to recategorise pubs (and other A4 outlets) in a use-class of their own, with the effect that any change-of-use or demolition would require planning permission. At present, pubs can change to restaurants, office space and other retail uses without planning permission.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA Chief Executive, comments:

“I want to see as many viable pubs as possible and I completely understand the wish to protect pubs. But it is also important to consider why the current planning rules exist and the importance of the flexibility they offer to allow pub businesses the ability to change use, when this is needed.

“These days, there are very blurred distinctions between pubs, bars and restaurants. If the right to change use were removed for pubs, there is a real concern that a pub could be penalised, or indeed prevented, from increasing its food offering by a local authority planning department. This would inevitably lead to disputes, costs and additional complexity for many small businesses, and take up the time of local authorities. Such a change would create a lot of uncertainty and have a very negative impact on property values, for pubs that are often the only significant asset of many people running small businesses.

“Overall, this would be a change that could cause great uncertainty, as the Assets of Community Value (ACV) rules currently offer more than sufficient protection for pubs that are much-loved community assets, something we have always supported. At the very least, pubs would need to retain the ability to move from A4 classification, to A3. I would therefore hope that the Government would carefully consider all these issues when this issue returns to the House of Commons in due course. If there were to be such a major change, there should be a full public consultation.”

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