Yorkshire pubs are protected as ‘assets’ by local groups

CAMPAIGNERS have moved to protect 25 Yorkshire pubs from unwanted redevelopment by having them registered as ‘assets of community value’.

Community Pubs Minister and Keighley MP Kris Hopkins

The Campaign for Real Ale said 600 pubs and former pubs nationwide have been given some protection under the Localism Act which allows groups a chance to bid for a pub if the owner plans to sell.

But Camra said the scheme was undermined by pubs being converted into supermarkets or other retail uses without the need for a planning application.

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Camra spokesman Tom Stainer said evidence earlier this year revealed that two pubs a week were converted into supermarket convenience stores.

“The fact pubs are the most listed community asset shows just how much people value their local pub.

“It is therefore hugely disappointing that the Government won’t act to close planning loopholes which allow developers to convert pubs to other uses without the requirement for planning permission.

“Planning permission is required to convert a convenience store into a pub but no permission is required to convert a pub into a convenience store. The lack of protection for pubs is a glaring anomaly in the English planning system which needs to be corrected.

“It is surely not right that a supermarket convenience store is given greater planning protection than a valued community pub,” he said.

Campaigners in Yorkshire are urging pub goers to consider registering their ‘local’ as a community asset. It can be done by 21 local people or by a body such as a parish council.

John Walsh, who is part of a community group trying to raise money to buy the now-closed Holywell Inn near Halifax, said registering as a community asset was “vital” to allow a community to put a bid together and to prevent a quick sale taking place.

Councils were taking note of the community asset status before deciding planning applications, he added.

“We are still trying to buy the pub but our campaign has been a major success. We have raised substantial funds towards the £350,000 we need.”

Other registered pubs include the White Swan at Hunmanby which was the subject of a successful community campaign.

Community Pubs Minister and Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “Local pubs are part of the social and cultural fabric of this nation and this Government is determined to protect them. That is why we have already abolished the unpopular beer and alcohol duty escalators, cut business taxes for pubs and armed communities with the right to protect their treasured local from closure by listing it as a community asset.

“This Government is committed to supporting valued community pubs, whilst avoiding heavy-headed regulation which would do more harm than good by leading to boarded up, empty buildings.”

Meanwhile, taxation and red tape have been responsible for the closure of more than 6,000 pubs since 2006, according to a study.

The report, Closing Time - Who’s killing the British pub, by the Institute of Economic Affairs, claims that the rapid acceleration of pub closures could not be explained by factors such as changing tastes and the shift towards home drinking. The report’s author Christopher Snowdon says the alcohol duty escalator, policies such as the smoking ban and declining real wages as a result of the recession were to blame for the number of pubs plummeting from just over 58,000 in 2006 to 48,000, a drop of nearly 20 per cent.