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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Communities should have a say over pub conversions

Words: Laura Edgar
Pubs can be registered as assets of community value

The House of Lords has debated permitted development rights that might see a pub’s use change and neighbourhood planning groups being informed of national infrastructure projects.

In the final committee stage in the House of Lords, Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab) moved amendment 60, which sought to amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to provide more protection for pubs.

Kennedy said there are a number of problems that need addressing, including permitted development rights that might see a pub’s use being changed or the pub being demolished.

“The permitted development rights we are talking about here allow pubs to be changed to retail or temporary office use without securing planning permission. The effect is that local people are prevented from having a say over the future of their local pub. We should be clear that these are small businesses, not failing businesses, but decisions are often taken elsewhere and the community loses its pub without any say whatever. That cannot be right,” said Kennedy.

He noted the success of the assets of community value scheme, which was set up by the coalition government. However, the process can be costly and time-consuming.

Kennedy said the amendment would lead to fewer pubs needing to be registered under the scheme. Additionally, the developer looking to convert the pub might still get planning permission, but the amendment would allow communities and local people to have a say.

Lord Shipley (Liberal Democrats) tabled an amendment (61) that also sought to remove permitted development rights in relation to the change of use of a pub.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con), however, said that while he wanted to keep pubs open, and to do that they have to thrive, nothing in the amendment would make people use pubs. He said registering a pub as an asset of community value is a “perfectly good and satisfactory means for communities for pubs to look after themselves”.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con), the parliamentary under-secretary of state, Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office, said he wanted to look at the issue further ahead of the Lords’ meeting for the report stage of the bill. He asked Kennedy and Shipley to remove their amendments.

Kennedy removed his amendment, while amendment 61 was not moved.

Kennedy then moved amendment 64A, which sought to insert a clause that sets out clearly a role for the National Infrastructure Commission to advise local planning authorities about how national projects will link with local projects and how the national projects might affect specific neighbourhoods through the construction phase and operation.

It also sought to provide local authorities with a similar obligation to deal with those making a neighbourhood plan.

He noted that although the National Infrastructure Commission did not make the bill, “it is important that we get this clause into the bill”.

Bourne said significant engagement is required from any projects proposed by the National Infrastructure Commission, pointing out that “applicants are required to engage and consult local communities and local authorities from the outset, with local authorities having a role in assessing the adequacy of that consultation”.

Local planning authorities have an existing duty to advise or assist neighbourhood plans groups, added Bourne, and clause 5 – discussed in an earlier Lords committee stage – aims to ensure that authorities set out the support they can provide in a more transparent way.

Bourne urged Kennedy to withdraw the amendment, which he did.

The full transcript of the session can be found here.

It was a busy final session in the House of Lords, as they considered a long list of tabled amendments and a number of clauses.

Amendments 66, 67, 70, 71, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 95, 98, 99, 100, 101, 103, 105, 106, 108, 112, 113, 114, 115, 120, 121, 123, 124, 130 and 131 were agreed.

Amendments 62, 63, 64, 68, 69, 72, 73, 74, 75, 86, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 104A, 109, 111, 116, 117, 118, 119, 122, 125, 126, 129 and 129B were not moved.

Amendments 65, 88, 104, 127, 128, 129A were withdrawn.

Amendment 110 was withdrawn from the Marshalled List

Clauses 14, an amended 15, 16, 17, 18, an amended 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, an amended 27, 28, 29, 30, an amended 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and 42 were agreed.

Read more about the House of Lords Committee stage here:

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords express concerns about planning conditions measures

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords approve government changes

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords debate planning conditions

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