More say for local communities may help save pubs

Villagers outside the Pear Tree in Hildersham
Villagers outside the Pear Tree in Hildersham
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A government pledge to give locals more control over their community assets could help safe-guard village pubs.

Under current planning legislation, a pub can be lawfully converted to a shop without further planning permission. The change can be made under what is known as permitted development rights.

Ministers have now pledged to bring forward legislation so that listing a pub as an Asset of Community Value will remove this development right, giving the local community greater powers to object to the conversion.

Kris Hopkins, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “The passion for community pubs as demonstrated by the significant numbers listed as Assets of Community Value highlights the need to enable local communities to consider planning applications for the change of use of a pub of particular value.”

The Pear Tree pub in Hildersham faces being converted into a four-bedroom house after its owners converted it into a German furniture shop.

“I think it’s brilliant news for communities,” said Mark Logan, Chairman of SToPiT (Save the Pear Tree). “It’s just 12 months too late for us.

“This law that’s going to be brought in, it means they won’t be able to just change a pub into a shop or something without the people being properly consulted.

“I think it’s fantastic. It gives residents the ability to have a say in the future of their local assets.

“I think we’ve made a good case with the Pear Tree. There’s been a lot of support for our cause and I’m hopeful that the council will refuse the application to turn it into a residence.”