Can new legislation protect more pubs?
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners are hoping new legislation will offer greater pub protection powers after it emerged a flagship scheme to avert closures had received limited uptake and mixed results in North Somerset.
The Government’s Assets of Community Value (ACV) scheme was introduced as part of the 2011 Localism Act to help communities protect their pubs, or other services, from closure.
Pubs Minister Kris Hopkins said the scheme helped communities “protect their beloved pubs from sell-off” and called on people to celebrate the first ever Community Pubs Day by considering whether they might want to “list their local”.
About 600 pubs have been registered as ACVs nationally, but in North Somerset, the scheme has not been unanimously well received, and locally, only two have been registered - The White Hart Inn in Weston-in-Gordano and the Bristol House Inn in Weston.
The scheme means community groups or parish councils that register their pubs are entitled to a six-month moratorium of sale if the owner chooses to sell it, providing time to raise funds and make a bid of their own.
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Campaigners are hoping new legislation introduced on April 6, which means ACVs are no longer subject to permitted development rights and therefore cannot be converted or demolished without planning permission, may offer greater protection and encourage more use.
Barrie Childs, pubs protection co-ordinator with the Somerset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said at least 20 pubs had been ACV listed in the wider area, and the campaign was stepping up to register more.
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He said: “The revised scheme is so much more useful as a tool to protect pubs for the future, particularly as a result of the need to apply for full planning permission on proposed change of use.
“CAMRA would like all pubs to be given this protection but in the meantime we must register as many individual pubs as possible.
“An ACV does not guarantee a pub will remain a pub if it is threatened but it undoubtedly does help to protect it.
“A potential developer is more likely to look elsewhere if a pub is ACV listed.”
The White Hart Inn in Weston-in-Gordano was registered an ACV after its closure nearly two years ago.
Peter Yates-Round, chairman of the parish council and the group set up to save the pub said the village was worried it might be sold for development and so a prospective buy-out was planned.
However its owners Enterprise Inns has since found new tenants who are expected to reopen the pub in October.
Although the ACV has not been directly responsible for the pub’s saviour, Mr Yates-Round said the scheme still played a “large part” in putting pressure on Enterprise Inns.
He said: “It was another hoop for a prospective developer to jump through.
“It gave us a bit of breathing space to be able to engage with the owner and the opportunity to plead our case.”
However the community group behind plans to save the Bristol House Inn in Weston said its experience was less positive.
Mark Thyer, chairman of the Save the Bristol House Inn Campaign, said he sought ACV status to prevent the pub’s possible sale to Tesco, although it was never fully envisaged that a community buy-out could have happened.
Although the pub remains open, Mr Thyer said the threat of sale still remained, and cast doubt on the ACV scheme.
To find out more about how to register your local as an ACV contact Barrie Childs at firstname.lastname@example.org and on 01823 323642.