ACV and Planning Permission Update

In late March, following the passing of an amendment in the House of Lords, Parliament agreed an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill which removes permitted development (PD) rights for the change of use or demolition of pubs. The Government is supporting a measure to close a planning loophole in England which has allowed pubs to be demolished or converted without a planning application. Previously, communities had to go through the bureaucratic and flawed process of obtaining an ACV listing. The likely implementation date is July. The Government’s decision will bring a halt to developers exploiting loopholes and will give communities the right to have a say in the future of their pubs. The decision will not prevent the development of pubs, but will require developers to apply for planning permission, allowing for members of the local community to express their opinions as part of that process. The changes remove the PD rights to change the use of premises from A4 (drinking establishments) to A3 (restaurants/cafes), A2 (financial and professional services offices) or A1 (shops). The right to demolish drinking establishments is also removed. The changes also introduce a new mixed A4/A3 use class, to cover premises used both as pubs and restaurants. CAMRA planning experts have examined this closely and find nothing to fear; planning permission will still be needed to move from this new mixed-use class to any other class. CAMRA Chief Executive Tim Page said: “This is a fantastic victory, the result of the work of thousands of local campaigners and CAMRA members who have been calling for an end to the loopholes in existing legislation. This change delivers real and robust protection to valued community pubs.” In addition, our repeated comments that Sheffield City Council (SCC) are gold-plating the ACV process have also been admitted by SCC.  As part of their documentation which announced the news that the University Arms had achieved ACV status, SCC warned against approving applications for “any venue where food and drink was consumed by customers in a welcoming environment.” They went on to state: “Such a low bar would make it difficult to decide what should not be an ACV.” By way of comparison, Leeds have accepted 97% of ACV applications for pubs (33/34), Baintree 83% (10/12), North Hertfordshire 94% (17/18):  Sheffield have accepted 41% (9/22). Pending SCC ACV decisions are the Cherry Tree (Carterknowle Road) (decision, due 14/04/17) and Carbrook Hall (17/04/17). Hopefully, these will be the last ACV applications that will need to made for Sheffield pubs. The next step is to campaign to change the SCC Local Plan. We can resist unwanted planning applications much more effectively if Local Planning Authorities have strong policies protective of community pubs in their Plans.   – Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer

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