SHEFFIELD & DISTRICT CAMRA BRANCH
Sheffield & District CAMRA is concerned that pubs continue to close at an alarming rate. Assets of Community Value (ACV) were introduced as part of the 2011 Localism Act to empower communities to protect assets that matter to them – including public houses. Nationally, there are currently around 1200 pubs listed as Assets of Community Value.
The Government’s intention is clear that Local Authorities should add assets to the list of successful nominations should the asset further (or has recently furthered) the community’s social wellbeing or social interests (which include cultural, sporting or recreational interests) and is likely to do so in the future.
Without ACV status, pubs can be converted or demolished without planning permission. This was the main motivation behind ACV applications submitted by Sheffield CAMRA during 2015.
We have submitted 13 applications – two to Derbyshire Dales and eleven to Sheffield City Council (SCC). After the statutory eight week period, Derbyshire Dales Council approved our applications to list both The Red Lion (Litton) and the Bull’s Head (Foolow) as an ACV.
However, Sheffield were slow in their response. Finally, nine decisions were posted on their website just before Christmas 2015, almost 5 months since the original Applications. The 2011 Localism Act states that Council have 8 weeks to determine ACV applications.
Sheffield City Council have rejected nine of our applications. The application for the Castle Inn (Bradway) is on hold and an eleventh application was submitted in December 2015. A decision is due in mid-February.
In our opinion the applications to SCC clearly reached the statutory test outlined by the Government and showed how the pubs furthered the social wellbeing and social interests of the community. This was confirmed by our colleagues at CAMRA HQ who compared our documentation to successful applications in other parts of the country.
We believe all our applications clearly met the key criteria:
– The pub is of community value and is the main use of the land nominated
– That the building is currently operating as a pub of community value (or has in the recent past)
– That there is a realistic prospect that the building being used as a pub of community value during the next five years
We believe that a number of items suggested by SCC to support our applications are unnecessary – such as providing surveys on how many people use the pub, supplying any form of business plans and including testimonials from local people.
Sheffield CC seem to be defining “community” as people living in the immediate vicinity of the pub. However, neither the Act nor the Regulations define the meaning of community in relation to ACVs. Hence, it seems reasonable to use a dictionary definition : “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common”. The latter arguably embraces people who regularly use a pub even if they don’t live nearby – what they have in common is that they like the pub. If the Council accept that then it ought just to be a matter of proving that the pub has a core of regular customers.
Our concern is that the Council are gold plating the requirements and that we will be unable to nominate pubs due to these boundaries. One specific example of this is the Council requesting evidence that a pub was “Sheffield’s most haunted pub,” a statement that was originally clearly included to provide additional context rather than a reason for the nomination.
Sheffield CAMRA will be making further ACV applications to SCC in the near future.
Pub Heritage Officer, Sheffield and District CAMRA
DRONFIELD & DISTRICT CAMRA BRANCH
The local ACV campaign to save the Fleur De Lys in Unstone is moving forward with enough signatures having been gained. This will now go to council for consideration. There is also the possibility of having the building listed.