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Architects welcome clampdown on pub-to-shop conversions

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Developers will no longer be able to convert pubs into shops without planning permission after MPs voted to change planning rules

The government introduced an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill after the Lords voted last month to remove permitted development rights applying to pubs.

The move has been given a widespread thumbs-up by architects, who have emphasised the role of the pub in creating places.

Architect Ben Adams said: ‘This is a great piece of legislation, perfectly timed to coincide with Article 50, that brings long overdue protection to the British pub – and not to that effete European upstart “the Bar”.

‘A proper pub is an overheated and underlit sanctuary on any neighborhood high street, that brings a warm fuzziness to the rest of your day, along with slight anxiety about that sinister bloke playing pool.’

Richard Coutts, director at Baca Architects, said he would be raising a glass to the new measure.

He said: ‘We have to remember that the British pub has come a long way since the smoking ban.

‘Many have a great family vibe and the renaissance of craft beer means there is also something decent to drink inside them.

‘More seriously these buildings are wonderfully architecturally characterful, contrasting the blandness of some of the neighbourhoods around then. Like playing fields, they provide much wider benefits than their specified use.’

The planning change is a victory for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which has lobbied hard for it.

CAMRA chief executive Tim Page said: ‘This announcement is the result of the work of thousands of local campaigners and CAMRA members who have been calling for an end to the loopholes in existing legislation that have been used by developers to close wonderful, viable and well-supported local pubs.’

But Adams warned that pubs would need to change in order to survive, despite the tightening of the rules.

He said: ‘The generation of teetotal Millenials that might support this newly protected institution will need other reasons to push open the saloon doors, and I worry about how that will play out. There are only so many games of ironic drafts one can play after all.’

Architectural Review - pub cover

Meanwhile Hackney Council has brought in separate rules to stop private developers converting businesses, warehouses and launderettes into homes without planning permission.

Councillor Guy Nicholson, cabinet member for planning, business and investment at the east London local authority, said: ‘When the government introduced Permitted Development Rights, they opened the door for private developers to change the use of buildings in our borough, without seeking planning permission first, from valuable employment space for businesses into homes for private rent or sale – a short-sighted policy imposed on our local community and its economy.

‘By introducing Article 4 directions, we have made sure the council has taken the lead in responding to this short-sighted approach by ensuring that you have to get planning permission if you want to change the use of employment space in the borough.

’The latest directions also require developers to seek planning permission if they want to change the use of buildings that support start-ups, warehousing or light manufacturing, and now we are adding launderettes to this list.’


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