Planning and Pub Protection Policies

National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”)

The NPPF came into operation in March 2012, reducing 1000 pages of national planning policy to just 52.  Where Local Plans are silent (eg. policies on pub protection) then Framework policies apply.

The Framework contains several policies which are potentially very helpful to pubs – notably Section 70, which states that Local Planning Authorities (“LPAs”) should “guard against unnecessary loss of valued facilities where they would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs” and should “ensure that established shops, facilities and services are retained for the benefit of the community”. The definition of community facilities earlier in the section includes public houses. This policy applies to all community pubs, not just those in rural areas.

Section 28 calls on LPAs to promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities in villages such as public houses.

Section 23 tells them to recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality.

The London Plan

The London Plan is the overall strategic plan for London, and it sets out a fully integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of the capital to 2036.  It forms part of the development plan for Greater London.  London boroughs’ local plans need to be in general conformity with the London Plan, and its policies guide decisions on planning applications by councils and the Mayor.

Section 4.48A of the London Plan recognises the important role that London’s public houses can play in the social fabric of communities and recent research highlighting the rapid rate of closures over the past decade and the factors behind these.  To address these concerns, where there is sufficient evidence of need, community asset value and viability in pub use, boroughs are encouraged to bring forward policies to retain, manage and enhance public houses.

Lambeth Local Plan

The draft Lambeth Local Plan sets out planning policies for Lambeth to guide growth in housing and jobs, infrastructure delivery, place-shaping and the quality of the built environment over the next 15 years. Once adopted, along with the London Plan, it will form the new statutory development plan for the borough.

The Nov 2013 draft plan submission is currently being reviewed by the government planning inspectorate.

Draft Policy ED8 Public Houses states:

(a) The council supports the retention of public houses. Applications for the change of use, redevelopment and/or demolition of a public house must demonstrate that: (i) the public house use is no longer economically viable; a viability report must be submitted and this must include evidence of active and appropriate marketing over a continuous period of at least 12 months and evidence that all reasonable efforts have been made to preserve the facility; (ii) the proposal would not result in the loss of a service or facility of particular value to the local community; and (iii) the proposed alternative use will not detrimentally affect the vitality of the area and the character of the street scene.

(b) Changes of use to non-A or D class uses will only be acceptable where the criteria set out in part (a) of the policy above are met and there is no reasonable prospect in the medium term of re-use or refurbishment for an alternative A or D class use, demonstrated through marketing evidence.

(c) If the public house is considered by the council to be either of townscape value or a heritage asset the council will seek retention of the building and any external features of interest, including characteristic pub features.

(d) Schemes affecting public houses should not result in a loss of cellarage or other features which might render the public house use unviable.

This policy applies to public houses and sites previously in pub use, where the last lawful use of the premises was a permitted A class use, whether currently in use as a public house or not.

Lewisham Development Management Local Plan

The Lewisham Development Management Local Plan (“DMLP”) was adopted on 26 Nov 2014 and sets out the Council’s planning policies for managing development in the London Borough of Lewisham and will be used to guide, assess and determine planning applications. The plan supports the implementation of the Lewisham Core Strategy and the London Plan.

DM Policy 20 covers public houses and states the Council will only permit the change of use or redevelopment of a public house after an assessment of:

(a) a viability report that demonstrates to the Council’s satisfaction that the public house is no longer economically viable, including the length of time the public house has been vacant, evidenced by the applicant of active and appropriate marketing for a constant period of at least 36 months at the existing use value;

(b) the role the public house plays in the provision of space for community groups to meet and whether the loss of such space would contribute to a shortfall in local provision, including evidence that the premises have been offered to use or to hire at a reasonable charge to community or voluntary organisations over a 12 month period and there is no longer a demand for such use;

(c) the design, character and heritage value of the public house and the significance of the contribution that it makes to the streetscape and local distinctiveness, and where appropriate historic environment, and the impact the proposal will have on its significance;

(d) the ability and appropriateness of the building and site to accommodate an alternative use or uses without the need for demolition or alterations that may detract from the character and appearance of the building.

Royal Greenwich Core Strategy

New Southwark Plan

Southwark Council is reviewing the Southwark Plan and Core Strategy to prepare a local plan called the New Southwark Plan. This new plan will set out a regeneration strategy for the next 10-15 years and will be used to make decisions on planning applications.  The New Southwark Plan will set out the strategy for regeneration from 2018 to 2033.

Consultation on the proposals runs until the end of Mar 2015.

Draft policy DM27 states that retention and improvement of pubs will be supported because they can be important community assets by helping to create a sense of place and a hub for developing social networks between local people. Development affecting a pub must not result in a loss of cellarage or other features in the building that might render the pub use unviable. Development must not result in the loss of a pub.

An exception to this may be made where the applicant can demonstrate that the pub has been vacant and marketed for sale or lease for a pub use for a continuous period of at least 18 months or the pub is not financially viable. Where a change of use is permitted, development must retain the building where the design, character and heritage value of the building is assessed as making a positive contribution to street scene, local character and/or the historic environment.


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