CAMRA calls for more protection for Huntingdonshire town pubs
14:45 10 January 2013
THE Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling for more protection to stop pubs in towns and large villages from being turned into restaurants and shops.
The organisation has asked Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) to include steps in its Local Plan, which runs until 2036, to protect pubs.
At present, pubs can be turned into restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, shops or for financial services without developers applying for planning permission, which enabled Tesco to move into the former Black Bull pub, in Somersham, in 2011.
The Hunts Post has been told that the Aviator, in Ramsey Road, St Ives, will open as “an upmarket restaurant” around the end of February in a similar move.
CAMRA wants HDC to adopt planning guidance, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework, that asks applicants looking for a change of use or demolition to market the properties as free-of-tie pubs for a year.
The same proposals were accepted by Cambridge City Council last year.
Members have also asked HDC to ensure developers need planning permission to change the use of a pub and to designate pubs as having ‘town centre uses’ – meaning they receive specific protection.
Paul Moorhouse, spokesman for Huntingdonshire CAMRA, said: “The Cambridge guidelines have successfully stopped two pubs from being turned into other uses and we are looking for the same in Huntingdonshire, as 40 per cent of pubs that have closed in the district in the last five years have been urban pubs.
“It is hard for developers to close the last pubs in rural communities as they are currently protected, and it is the main thrust of our submission that urban pubs get the same protection.
“To be able to change the use of a pub to a restaurant, shop or estate agents without planning permission is a back-handed way of business and needs to be stopped.”
The Local Plan to 2036 includes a policy that will only allow losses of local services or facilities, including pubs, if there is not reasonable prospect of that service or facility being provided in an equally accessible location but CAMRA believes this will only apply to rural pubs.
A spokesman for HDC said: “We shall consider this as part of our deliberations.
“There is the potential for communities to seek to protect pubs by acquiring them as social infrastructure, through a new process introduced by the Government.”