Governments urged to strengthen pub protection laws

Strengthening planning laws and enforcement powers would save more historic pubs, says CAMRA 

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is marking the six-month anniversary of the demolition of the Crooked House pub in Himley, Staffordshire by calling on government ministers to commit to extra protections for pubs to avoid them being illegally converted or demolished. 

The consumer organisation, which last week met with Levelling Up minister Lee Rowley MP to discuss protecting the nation’s pubs, wants more enforcement powers for local councils in England to stop pubs being illegally converted or demolished – including the ability for councils to force demolished locals to be rebuilt brick by brick. 

In England, changing the use of a pub or demolishing one requires planning permission – but figures compiled by CAMRA showed that last year up to a third of closures and demolitions may be happening without the required planning permission. 

The Campaign is also calling for similar protections for pubs in the planning system in Wales which don’t currently exist, and for a tightening of loopholes in Scotland to prevent pubs being allowed to be demolished without planning permission. 

CAMRA also produces a range of pub-saving guides offering advice for individuals and community groups looking to save their pub from conversion or demolition and is working with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Mayor Andy Street to list heritage pubs in that region to offer them better protections. 

CAMRA’s pub saving guides are available at Save your local pub – CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale 

Commenting on the six-month anniversary since the fire and subsequent demolition of the Crooked House pub, CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said: 

“Six months on, this national scandal rightly still angers people up and down the country. Our pubs are at the heart of community life across the UK and must be protected as a vital part of our social fabric. 

“Local people deserve to have a chance, through the planning system, to save their local pub from demolition or conversion to another use. Where this is done illegally, it is vital that local authorities have the powers and resources to force buildings back into use as pubs – or for them to be rebuilt brick by brick if they have been knocked down. 

“That’s why on this anniversary we are renewing calls for governments in Westminster, Cardiff and Edinburgh to commit to improving planning protection laws and to make sure local authority planning departments are equipped to stop pubs being illegally converted or demolished without permission. Otherwise, we risk seeing more beloved locals across the UK being illegally taken away from the communities they serve.” 

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