As land values continue to rise and the need for housing grows ever greater, pubs are now more so than ever being targeted by developers. Recent months have seen two cases where developers have sought to bypass planning regulations by demolishing the pubs without permission in the hope of increasing their chances of redeveloping the sites.
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015 Schedule 2, Part 11 sets before you can carry out the demolition you must apply to the planning authority for a determination as to whether prior approval will be required for the method of demolition and any proposed restoration of the site (additional requirements specifically for A4 uses are also required which will be set out below). In both of the following cases this procedure was not followed before demolition works took place, thus resulting in a breach of planning control.
The Carlton Tavern, Maida Vale
Here the site owner had been refused permission to demolish the pub and replace it with 10 residential units. The site was due to be given Grade II listed status by Historic England, however before this could be formalised, over the Easter weekend demolition works began at the site. Westminster Council has subsequently issued an enforcement notice requiring the pub to be rebuilt, a copy of the notice can be seen here. The Council has also successfully sought an injunction to prevent the developer from carrying out any further demolition works to the site.
Fishmonger’s Arms, Wandsworth
Last month this Victorian era pub located within a Conservation Area was demolished without consent, before and after photos can be seen here. The site owner has subsequently applied to Wandsworth Council for retrospective permission to demolish the building, no formal enforcement action has seemingly been taken yet.
Protection from development
There are a number of ways to protect pubs from the threat of redevelopment. The Localism Act 2011 introduced Assets of Community Value (ACV) whereby community organisations can nominate land or property to be included on their local authority’s register of asset of community value. If any nomination is successful, in the event that the owner of the ACV wants to sell the land or property they must inform the local authority if they wish to sell the asset. If a group wants to buy the asset, they can trigger a moratorium for six months, to give them a chance to raise the money to purchase the asset. This has proven especially popular with pubs with over 600 now designated across England.
Once a pub is registered as an ACV as of April this year, its permitted development rights (for example to change to an A1 use) are removed for a period of 5 years.
Furthermore the new General Permitted Development Order 2015 brings with it further restrictions on permitted development rights for A4 uses even if it is not registered as an Asset of Community Value, for example a pub can no longer be changed to a supermarket (A1 use) without the developer sending a request to the local authority as to whether the building has been nominated as an ACV. Likewise demolition of a pub cannot take place without prior approval and the developer sending a request to the local authority as to whether the building has been nominated as an ACV. Full details contained within the Order can be seen here.
Many pubs have rich and interesting histories behind them and so in some cases their nomination to Historic England for listing may be appropriate. Any formal listing is likely to carry with it a significant layer of protection.
As seen with the two examples above, even the use of these methods of protection still might not be enough to stop a developer intentionally breaching planning control. It will be interesting to see how both these cases pan out.