Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark, Shadow Spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has confirmed his support for strengthening planning laws to protect vulnerable pubs across England.
In yesterday's House of Lords debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, Lord Kennedy promised to propose an amendment to remove permitted development rights for pubs so that they are protected under the planning system.
In his speech at the despatch box, Lord Kennedy said "I also give notice to the Minister that we shall be proposing an amendment in Committee to remove the permitted development rights for pubs in England and to place pubs in a class of their own.
Permitted development rights allow the change of use of pubs to retail and temporary office use without planning permission, with communities denied a say over the loss of valuable community assets. We are presently seeing 21 pubs close a week.
That is most regrettable, and we need to act save our pubs."
While the lack of protection in current legislation has galvanised community groups across the country to protect their locals by registering 2000 pubs as Assets of Community Value (ACV), the process has proven to be lengthy and bureaucratic for both community groups gathering supporting evidence for their nominations, and local authorities who preside over ACV applications.
Lord Kennedy's proposed amendment would therefore take pressure off local community groups to individually list pubs and councils which are burdened with red tape.
Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman says: "We have seen communities across England go 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. We thank Lord Kennedy for his sensible proposals and hope that they are carried forward in the Bill."