CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is pressing the Government to act now to help save pubs in light of the latest CGA-CAMRA Pub Tracker, which shows that the number of net pub closures in the UK remains high at 29 per week – almost twice the number of pub closures in 2011.
These figures coincide with a new clause to the Infrastructure Bill in England, tabled this week by a cross-party group of MPs, which would mean that planning permission is always required before demolishing or converting a pub into a supermarket convenience store or other retail use.
Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive says: “It is currently possible to convert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, making it far too easy for pubs valued by the community to be lost without local people having a say. Given the huge contribution that pubs make to community life in Britain we believe this cannot be right.”
“The clause tabled by Charlotte Leslie MP is a fantastic opportunity to get the Government to take swift action to close these planning loopholes. We urge every MP who supports local communities and local pubs to get behind this clause and help secure a better future for the great British pub industry. We hope that we can rally support from sufficient MPs to persuade Ministers to reconsider their current refusal to provide effective planning protection for viable and valued pubs.”
This attempt to amend the Infrastructure Bill is a huge step forward for CAMRA’s Pubs Matter campaign, which calls on the Government to make a simple change to the law in England so that a planning application is required before a pub is demolished or converted into another use. This change would give pubs the same protection that exists for sites such as theatres, scrap yards and nightclubs. It would also give communities the chance to have a say when their local pub is under threat.
The campaign has so far secured the support of nearly 100 MPs for an Early Day Motion on pub demolition and change of use. CAMRA is calling on all MPs to support the clause and make the changes necessary to support local pubs across the country.
Charlotte Leslie MP for Bristol North West says: “We urgently need a change to the law to protect pubs like The Bourne End in Brentry in my constituency from being simply demolished, or turned into a supermarket before the community has had the ability to have its say. Of course there will be some pubs that simply are not viable, but we must reset the balance in favour of the community, not the big developers.”
The InnSpectre reviews…
There’s a fine selection of books available at the King Lud on the Isle of Wight, although it’s going to take a certain kind of pubgoer to thumb through the weighty tome that is Active Server Pages 3.0. For those looking for a more free-flowing read there’s the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
The barmaid at the Railway in Cheam stared right through me as I ordered a pint. She then looked away when handing over my change with an expression of total and utter disgust. She looked hot, but I felt hideous. It was as if Kim Kardashian was pulling pints for the Elephant Man.
I risked life and limb by going for a wee at the Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden. The descent down the stairs to the toilets is akin to walking down a lift shaft. Bow your head and hold on tight to the handrails as you prepare for a journey to the centre of the pub. Resurfacing gives the drinker a real sense of achievement that I can only imagine was felt by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing when they conquered Everest back in 1953.
I edged towards the bar at the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, bumping my cheap old man bag into posh people who I suspect have names such as Tarquin, Octavia, Marmaduke and Cressida, all of whom had the obligatory quiff and smug smile you’d expect from polo-loving members of the aristocracy.