24th Oct, 2016

Vale MP hopes law will protect Evesham pubs

Evesham Editorial 28th Jan, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM’S MP Sir Peter Luff has welcomed a change in planning powers which will enable communities to protect their pubs.

The change came about after Planning Minister Stephen Williams MP announced an extension of existing laws under the 2011 Localism Act.

Sir Peter called for a level of protection for pubs to be introduced in the last Parliament when he was chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills committee.

And he said last year there was a prime example of when the powers could have been used when Wychavon District Council ‘had no choice’ but to accept a change of use for the Halfway House in Fernhill Heath to enable it to become a convenience store.

“This change comes too late for the Halfway House, but I hope every parish council in Mid Worcestershire will now take a look at their local pubs and if all or any of them are important to the community they serve, as I know most are, register them as

community assets.”

There is protection in the national planning policy framework and in the Localism Act 2011, enabling people to list an asset as one of community value.

More than 1,800 sites have already been listed as assets of community value, giving local people or organisations the chance to gain ownership and secure full planning protection. Of those 1,800 sites, 600 have been pubs.

“The most popular use of this asset of community value legislation is for public houses.

“The Government will now increase these powers in respect of pubs by building on existing protections to help communities preserve those pubs that benefit the community the most,” Sir Peter added.

Developers will no longer have the permitted right to change the use of pubs to shops, restaurants, cafes, financial or professional services. They will also be unable to demolish them as long as they are listed as assets of community value.

“This will mean that, for these pubs, a planning application must be made to a local planning authority before a change of use or demolition of a pub can take place.

“This gives the decision back to the council representing the local community.”

During a Commons debate on the issue, the MP quizzed Mr Williams about the time scale for the legislation, asking if it would be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

The Minister responded by saying: “When I say ‘at the earliest opportunity’, I mean ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

“In other words, we hope that the statutory instrument to which my honourable friend has referred will be published and laid before Parliament in the next few weeks.”