Planning changes mean end to Permitted Development for ACV-listed pubs
4 February 2015, Blog
For pubs listed as Assets of Community Value (ACV), developers may soon need to apply for planning permission for a change of use, rather than getting permission through permitted development as is currently the case. On Monday (26 January), the communities minister Kris Hopkins announced that the government will bring forward secondary legislation to change the current planning process.
Hopkins said that changes would be brought in “at the earliest opportunity”. As it stands, developers who are seeking to change pubs into shops, supermarkets or betting shops do not require any approval, even though an ACV listing means they must first offer to sell to the local community who then have six months to raise the funds. Once the changes are in place it will make it even more difficult to develop ACV listed pubs.
Last summer, the Guardian reported that British pubs are closing at a closure rate of 31 per week. While this new approach is intended to give more support for communities who don’t wish to see their pub developed, it won’t be welcomed by many pub owners who are already making losses and may be under severe financial strain. However, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has spoken out in support of the proposals but does not feel that they go far enough, calling for the community value status to be extended to all pubs by default.
This further hurdle to developing ACV-listed pubs will lead to delays of well over seven months before a change of use is brought to local authorities, then give councils an opportunity to say no at committee. This may well lead to the devaluing of pubs listed as ACVs, making it cheaper and easier for communities to buy them. It will also mean that if a developer is committed to changing use, they will have an uphill struggle to win over local planning committees, particularly if a community interest group has formed to oppose the development. This will make engagement in those communities vital, before a change of use has any chance of being approved.
In similar news, on 3 February the Communities and Local Government Select Committee published a report suggesting that an ACV listing should be a material consideration for local authorities in all planning applications, rather than just those for minor works. Essentially, this means that ACV status would be a valid reason for refusal.
The report also suggests that the period of time given to local communities to raise funds to buy an ACV building be increased to 9 months – further extending the time a developer would need to wait.
With all this extra power aimed at communities to protect assets from development, it almost feels like there’s an election coming up.