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Removing permitted development rights for ACV pubs - what are the implications?

The government has announced that it will be introducing legislation so that, when a pub is listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) it triggers a suspension of any permitted development rights. Under planning legislation, planning permission is required before development is carried out on land. A development includes a change of use. However, permitted development rights effectively give planning permission for various activities without the necessity of obtaining a planning permission. Some changes of use are included within permitted development rights. For example, changing the use of a pub to a shop currently falls within permitted development rights and, therefore, this can be done without planning permission.

It is this that the government intends to change. Its view is that if a community has succeeded in getting a pub listed as an ACV, it should be protected at all costs. Removing permitted development rights will prevent a change of use (or demolition) without a full planning application, and, as set out in the Department for Communities and Local Government's non-statutory guidance on ACVs "it is open to the Local Planning Authority to decide whether listing as an ACV is a material consideration if an application for change of use is submitted considering all the circumstances of the case". Therefore, it is possible that, once a property has been added to a local authority's ACV list, planning permission for a change of use is going to be difficult to obtain.

No detail is available on how long the removal of permitted development rights will be effective, once a property has been listed as an ACV. The fact that many local authorities include properties, a lot of which are pubs, on their ACV lists without good reason, and following very weak community nominations, is a real issue. Unfortunately, it looks as though pub owners are going to have to continue to challenge ACV nominations in order to preserve the right to deal with their properties as they wish. In addition, pub owners ought to develop a strategy for identifying where permitted development rights could be used before any nomination as a ACV is made.

No indication has, as yet, been given as the timeframe for the introduction of this legislation.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at January 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases; we cannot be held responsible for any action (or decision not to take action) made in reliance upon the content of this publication.

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