Developers flout vital pub protection regulations in a third of pub closures
Shock pub closure figures released by consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) show a third of pub losses happen without the required planning permission.
The data – published as part of CAMRA’s biennial pub closure figures – shows a total of 96 pubs lost to conversion or demolition across the UK in the first six months of the year, with 31 of those lacking planning permission.
Pubs in England cannot be converted or demolished without planning permission – a vital protection campaigned for by CAMRA – which empowers communities to have their say on the future of their local. However, concerning figures released today by the Campaign show that a third of pub losses happen without this process taking place.
A further 772 were classed as ‘long-term closed’, equivalent to 30 pubs a week, and by far the highest figures seen since CAMRA improved and revised its data collection methods in 2021. While the outlook is undoubtedly serious for the pub trade there are reasons to be optimistic within these numbers, as ‘long-term closed’ describes pubs that may still reopen to their communities and where more detail was available, most venues were seeking a new tenant or being actively marketed as pubs.
Commenting on the figures, CAMRA Pub and Club Campaigns Director Gary Timmins said, “The pub trade is resilient, but it’s simply unacceptable that developers are able to flout planning regulations in this manner.
“CAMRA has been calling for more consistent enforcement of planning requirements by councils for some time. We believe that if Local Planning Authorities are not able to apply pub protections as set out in legislation, then Government in Westminster must step in to provide clearer guidance. These are national policies in England and yet the variation that our campaigners see between councils with the strongest pub protection policies, and those that view pubs as an inconvenience, is shocking.
“Today’s figures must be a wakeup call for government at all levels to take a more proactive approach in ensuring compliance with the National Planning Policy Framework.
“We are also calling on the Welsh Government to urgently introduce and enforce planning protections for pubs in Wales – and for the Scottish Government to end the current loophole where pubs can be demolished without planning permission.”
Notes to editors
Data is compiled from CAMRA’s pub database at whatpub.com and a full report can be downloaded from the CAMRA website at https://camra.org.uk/campaign_resources/camra-pub-closure-report-january-june-2023/