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High Street Rental Auctions

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Thousands of pubs could face extinction 

In 2017 CAMRA helped win landmark planning protection for pubs in England, but this is under threat from a new Government proposal that would give permitted development rights for vacant high street pubs. “High Street Rental Auction” proposals could see developers convert high street pubs, with no way for communities to have their say. 

What are High Street Rental Auctions?

High Street Rental Auctions are designed to bring unused commercial spaces – including pubs – back into use, by letting Councils auction off a lease for between 1-5 years.

These leases would allow pubs to be converted to other uses, divided up into multiple units, or gutted of their bars, cellars or other integral features. Concerningly, there would be no obligation to reinstate the pubs fittings at the end of the lease – in fact developers would be able to apply to make the conversion permanent.

This would be a significant loss of protection for urban pubs, and CAMRA is calling for the Government to think again on their plans.

What can we do?

The good news is that just one small change to these plans could instead support high street pubs, and high streets along with them.

Campaigning to see vacant pubs brought back into use is one of CAMRA’s core objectives and the proposals for High Street Rental Auctions recommend a focus on community uses when awarding leases. This has the potential to be a really positive step for urban pubs, as long as they don’t lose planning protection under the scheme. We know that pubs can increase and expand footfall on the high street, but we need Government to understand this too.

CAMRA National Chairman, Nik Antona has already written to the Minister responsible, and asked her to think again about giving developers the ability to convert pubs without giving local people the chance to have their say. We’ve made formal submissions to the Government’s consultation – both as a national organisation and via CAMRA’s network of branch campaigners – questions have been asked in Parliament, and thousands of emails have already been sent to MPs. 

The Government has now closed their consultation on High Street Rental Auctions, but we still need to keep the pressure on. You can take action by emailing your MP and making sure that these plans are used to support and rejuvenate urban pubs, not turn valued community venues over to the highest bidder.

More resources

Use the links to see our press release about High Street Rental Auctions and the letter sent by our National Chairman to the Levelling Up Minister.

CAMRA members can also head to our Campagins Hub for more information and campaigning resources.