CAMRA and the Local Government Information Unit recently collaborated on a report that found 28 UK pubs are closing every week. Public Houses: how councils and governments can save pubs also found that, since January 2012, at least 208 have been converted into supermarkets. CAMRA/LGiU cite the ease by which, under the Town and Country Planning Act (1995), drinking establishments can be converted into retail outlets without the approval of the local planning authority. While noting that “there is no magic bullet” to saving pubs, the report found that article 4 of the 1995 act, putting “change of use” of a building under the control of the local authority, has been used with some success, as has the Localism Act (2011), which enables communities to designate public houses as assets of community value.
This briefing from the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) popped up only a couple of days after Sefton Council’s Planning Committee had dealt with and indeed rejected unanimously a planning application to build flats on the site of the Priory Pub in Litherland.
I have posted about the campaign to save this pub before at:-
The Planning Officers wanted the Planning Committee to agree to the application to build flats on the site but the answer from the Committee was a very clear NO! But why was that? Well it comes down to the kind of issues being put forward by CAMRA and the LGiU and the fact that we on the Planning Committee felt it was right to give a higher priority to the separate(ish) but related process that is presently ongoing for the campaigners to try to buy the site and reopen it as a pub.
Time is not on the campaigners side as the owner may decide to demolish the pub anyway. Couple that to the fact that lead and slates have been stripped from part of the roof by thieves and it is clearly a big ask. BUT, we backed the localism agenda against the planning application. Whether this will have a good outcome I don’t know but we have given the opportunity for that to happen I hope.
I mentioned the Aintree Pub in one of my previous postings but of course the Cabbage Inn in Netherton has also bitten the dust in recent times. All 3 pubs are within a couple of miles of each other and there will be others closing as well in Bootle and across the UK.