Real Ale campaigners CAMRA, who have branches across the east, has launched an initiative to protect 3,000 pubs from demolition or conversion to other uses - as new statistics released show 29 pubs a week are being lost across the UK.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will be mobilising its members in England to nominate their local pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and offer advice and guidance to other community groups looking to do the same.
Currently pubs can be demolished or converted to other uses without planning permission, whereas pubs with ACV status are given planning protection under laws introduced in April.
With 800 pubs currently nominated, the initiative aims to raise the profile of ACVs to the pub-going public and increase the number with the status to 3,000 by the end of 2016 – an ambitious target, but one which CAMRA say is essential if England’s pubs are to be properly protected.
“Holes in the current planning system allow pubs to be sold off, demolished or converted to many other uses without planning permission or the involvement of the local community. However when a pub is nominated as an Asset of Community Value it automatically receives planning protection meaning it is no longer a soft target to would-be developers looking to quickly purchase and convert or demolish the pub – which in some instances has literally happened overnight,” said Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s Head of Communications.
CAMRA is inviting other local community groups to work with it in gaining this vital protection and urges community groups, or individuals, to get in touch with their local CAMRA branch to highlight valued pubs.
“Nominating a pub as an ACV is a surprisingly simple process. You can either nominate as an unincorporated group of 21 local people, as a Parish Council, or in connection with another local group including a CAMRA Branch.
“Some towns, such as Ilkley in West Yorkshire, have gone as far as nominating every pub in their area for ACV status to ensure all are protected in coming years,” Tom added.
Despite the protection afforded to pubs through the ACV system CAMRA say this doesn’t go far enough to curb the closure of pubs in the UK and that the next logical step is to extend the same protection to all pubs across England.
Find out more about the CAMRA campaign at camra.org.uk.
CAMRA top tips for protecting your local pub:
Establish the facts – who owns the pub, why has it ‘failed’, what is the likely purchase price, what is the trading history?
Assess levels of support within the community through community meetings, questionnaires or knocking on doors.
Form a committee to drive the campaign – ideally people with a strong mix of commitment, skills and experience.
Set up a communication list and hub, such as a website, e-mail list, facebook or twitter.
Establish a vision for the pub – what does the community want it to be?
Apply to list your pub as an Asset of Community Value to help give you time to raise funds to buy the pub.
Utilise local people and skills to give practical help with refurbishment, marketing, communications etc.
Find and speak to other community owned pubs to help with the plans. Your local CAMRA branch will know if there are others in the area.
Research into available sources of funding and what you will need to move forward with the business, e.g. business plan, prospectus for investors.
Gather as much information and advice from sources such as the Plunkett Foundation, Locality, Pub is the Hub, etc.