Call for change in planning laws to stop pubs being converted into food stores

The new Tesco Express store at the former Firs pub site,  Hellesdon. Picture: Denise Bradley The new Tesco Express store at the former Firs pub site, Hellesdon. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
12:24 PM

The Government has been urged to do more to protect pubs after new research revealed that closures have increased to 31 every week.

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The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said a “simple” change in the law would mean that a planning application was always needed before a pub was demolished or converted into another use.

Local campaigns have been launched in areas including Hereford, Braintree, Chesterfield, Reading, Harrogate, Lowestoft and Bognor Regis to stop pubs being converted into supermarkets, often without success.

Tonight, Waveney District Council’s development control committee will once again be voting on the long-running saga about converting the Tramway Hotel in Pakefield’s London Road into a Tesco Express store.
The number of pubs closing has increased from 26 a week a year ago to 31 now, with suburban areas the worst hit, said Camra.
Thousands of real ale fans attending Camra’s Great British Beer Festival in London this week will be asked to lobby their local MP to help save pubs.
Tom Stainer, of Camra, said: “Popular and profitable pubs are being left vulnerable by gaps in English planning legislation as pubs are increasingly being targeted by those wishing to take advantage of the absence of proper planning control.
“It is utterly perverse that developers are able to demolish or convert a pub into a convenience store or many other uses without any requirement to apply for planning permission.
“A pub is an entirely different proposition to a convenience store, estate agent or funeral directors and the planning system needs updating to reflect this fact.
“It is time for the Government to stop standing by while pubs are being targeted due to gaps in planning law.”
Among the Norfolk pubs which have either been turned into a convenience store or are planned to the converted are the Millhouse in Thorpe St Andrew, The Beehive in Sprowston, Hellesdon’s The Firs and also The Falcon, and The Wheatsheaf in Heacham, west Norfolk.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: “Councils already have powers available to them to protect pubs through article four planning directions, where there is a particular problem. However, excessive planning restrictions on changing the use of buildings would be counter-productive, leading to more empty, boarded up buildings.
“The best solution is for Camra and campaigners to keep using new rights to list their favourite locals as community assets - nearly 500 pubs have already been protected.
“The Government has also cut business taxes for community pubs, abolished the unpopular beer and alcohol duty escalators, axed the cider tax and made a pint eight pence cheaper than under the beer duty plans of the previous administration.”
For more on this story, see tomorrow’s paper.

10 comments

  • If people want to spend their money in supermarkets and not pubs then why do a bunch of bearded alcohol obsessives think they should have any say in the matter? It's either a free-market economy or it is not. If people wanted local pubs they would pay to use them and they would not close. Clearly most people these days have more need for express supermarkets.

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    Cyril the Canary

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • Rob Whittle - spot on. Social manners are a thing of the past for most people nowadays. Cutlery is held in a most peculiar way, the main aim seems to be to shovel food in as fast as one can. I find men in singlets, tattooed pot bellied women in pubs a definite turn off nowadays.We are going backwards instead of forwards. What`s gone so wrong.

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    BG

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • Pubs are a place to meet folk, hopefully polite folk. The problem being in some cases they are not the folk you'd like to meet. Either dribbling and lurching drunks, loud narcarcists, swearing or bringing their flee bitten maniac dogs into the pubs. Whilst landlords provide a reasonable pint, food, polite serviceand ambience on the whole, occasionally they aren't tough enough on unsocialiables they let in, for fear of losing trade! Its might be the best way to the bottom of the barrel and the dregs.

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    Rob Whittle

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • There is one reason and one reason only why so many pubs are closing.....they are not making money. Pubs as we used to know them in the 60’s, 70s, and 80’s for socialising are a thing of the past, times are changing and now pubs are mainly like restaurants which serve alcohol. I’m sure Convenience stores for everyday needs such as Tesco are better for the community than swigging beer all day. If these Anti-Tesco Nogs want to socialise there are much better places to meet than a pub.

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    MickB1

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • Pubs have had their day. The majority are really tatty with very little being spent on them. You only have to look at the décor to determine whether you stay or not. New pubs and those whose have had some serious money spent on them are doing very well, mainly as eateries. Changing them to small Tescos and the like are doing the community a favour so I don`t know why Camra is getting so upset about it. The days of the tatty pubs where your feet stick to a 30 year old carpet are well and truly over.

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    BG

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • Here we go again (yawn!) If landlords came down to earth, and stopped whining about supermarkets, and got real. I have a pub a few doors from me who charges £3+ a pint on my drink. 15mins down the road, I can buy it for £2+ a pint - why should I pay extra to support my 'local' - no one is going to pay me extra to compensate. The same goes for the smarket argument. Incidentally, I've known the llord for many years and have told him this, along with the fact he doesn't serve this pint anymore - apparently he can't sell it - says everything!!

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    biglingers

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • The reality is that the best way to save your local pub is NOT to list it as a community asset, but to actually USE the business!!!!

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    Busy mum

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • Tescos are more powerful than the planning system or officers trying to enforce this. Think Unthank Rd, Sherringham, Dereham Rd- so CAMRAs bid is pie in the sky. Even then when ex pubs close, they remain derelict for years because speculator buy high, run out of cash, can't develop these sites and leave them antisocially derelict for years. Think Shoemaker, W Early am, or Earl of Liecester , Dereham Rd!

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    Rob Whittle

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • That should stop Tesco's, about time to

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    Derek McDonald

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

  • ….Well if the pub can't make ago of it, and that must be mainly down to local inhabitants, then alternative uses of the building have to be considered!....Without someone taking the bit between the teeth The Firs would have turned into a derelict building.....I would say that the appearance of the Firs has improved, and I can only imagine that others have followed suit!....It is inevitable that other traders would object....Life is like that!....Then again sites along the Ring Road are saturated with 2nd hand Car Sales, all trying to make the most of what is available!....Perhaps a few of those that live around the Firs area could join in with this and give us their opinion!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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