A change of use from a pub to residential (houses / flats) or other commercial use (supermarket, shop or restaurant), or alterations to the appearance of the building (such as rebuilding after demolition, adding signage, installing an ATM, outlets for air conditioning) all need planning permission.

CAMRA successfully campaigned to remove a legal anomaly permitting change of use to other commercial use without full planning permission.

How Planning Regulations Affect Pub Conversions

Bristol Example

The following description of how Bristol City Council planning regulations affect pub conversions by Steve Comer (former Bristol City Alderman, CAMRA and Pubs Group member) is part of an article in Pints West 95:

The National Planning Policy Framework offers some protection for pubs, but the planning system does not offer as many safeguards as most of us would like.

Those wishing to convert a pub into houses or flats may find it more difficult to get permission from now on, but that is no longer the main problem. A change of use from pub to restaurant or supermarket does not need planning permission. we have seen the effect of this in Bristol with the Friendship in Knowle, the Fellowship in Horfield, etc.

So until CAMRA's campaign to change these use classes orders succeeds, we still could see pubs under threat, but all is not doom and gloom. Councils are charged with drawing up local plans which start with Core Strategy. The core strategy for Bristol was approved last year, and those for the surrounding areas are being considered. Bristol's core strategy has a policy in it (BCS12) which aims to protect community facilities including pubs. The key sentence is this one: "Existing community facilities should be retained, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no longer a need to retain the use or where alternative provision is made." This takes the protection in the National framework a stage further, but following discussions with the Bristol Pubs Group, the City Council has been consulting on a draft policy to support BCS12. This would resist the loss of public houses unless it could be demonstrated that the pub is no longer viable, or there are range of other pubs in the locality. The policy specifically refers to the viability test developed by CAMRA, and makes clear reference to the social amenities provided by pubs, and their role as local landmarks.

Changes to planning rules will not in themselves prevent pub closures, but we need to do everything we can to ensure policies are in place to help preserve local community pubs, especially in areas where few remain.

London Example

This article on Pub to Supermarket conversions was in the Dec 2012 / Jan 2013 issue of the London Drinker:

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