Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Government legislation which poses a threat to local pubs.

In the past pubs could be replaced by some retail establishments under rules introduced by the Conservatives in 1995. On 9th May 2013 the Government laid before Parliament The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013. It came into force on 30th May 2013 and changed the rules on high street planning without any parliamentary debate.

Under the new plans they can now be converted into offices, in addition to the existing rules allowing conversion into fast food outlets, payday lending shops and other retail uses, without permission for change of use. This means local communities will have even less ability to protect their local pubs.

Furthermore, existing pubs can now have part of their premises turned into any type of retail or business outlet. For example, a betting shop could now be placed in a pub. This may lead to real problems where people on a night out would be besieged by advertising from a shop on the other side of a glass wall and would find it much easier to gamble in a state where their judgment may be impaired.

Communities should be given more say over their high streets, not less, and local pubs need to be protected as community assets that bring people together rather than sold off as office space.

Worse still, these ill-conceived changes to the planning system might mean the creation of problem gambling centres, something that would be worrying at any time, but unforgiveable when household finances are under the greatest squeeze for a generation.