Wandsworth Council has just taken the unprecedented step of
issuing a non-immediate Article 4 Direction to withdraw permitted
development rights relating to demolition, alteration and changes
of use from 120 pub and bar sites in Wandsworth "due to their
historic or architectural value or because they make a positive
contribution to their community". Unlike an immediate
direction however, it will not take effect until 14 August 2017 at
the earliest. The Council have to confirm the Direction and
this cannot take place until after public consultation. The
consultation period runs until 12 September 2016 and the Council is
required to take any representations into account. You can reply to
the consultation at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/article4. Also, the
proposed Direction must be referred to the Secretary of State so it
may yet be modified or varied. The cynics among us believe
this 12 month stay has more to do with avoiding the requirement to
pay compensation for loss or damage attributable to the withdrawal
of the rights than allowing the Council a period of reflection.
Wandsworth, and many other Councils, have issued individual
article 4 directions to protect specific pub sites, but this is the
first blanket direction, and is an attempt by the Council to stop
"the relentless spread of mini-supermarkets and estate
agents". With pubs closing at a rate of 21 a week (according
to CAMRA), 3 of which are in London, we may see more of these
directions in the future.
Watch out for Councils beefing up planning policies to protect
pubs – they need to do this first in order to be able to
justify refusals for the planning applications which will have to
be submitted once the Article 4 Direction is effective and
permitted development rights are withdrawn.
Pubs do of course already have other protections such as listing
as an asset of community value (ACV). Permitted development rights
for changes of use and demolition have already been withdrawn from
ACV-listed pubs (although a listing only lasts for 5 years).
Even where the pub is not currently listed owners/developers have
to submit a written request to the local planning authority to ask
whether the building is the subject of an ACV nomination and cannot
carry out any work for 56 days (by which time a nomination may well
have been triggered) and the permitted development rights must then
be used within a year of the request. This is where the
would-be developers of the Carlton pub in Maida Vale slipped up
– they demolished the pub 2 days after this new requirement
had been introduced and were ordered by the Council to rebuild it
brick by brick, an order which was upheld last month by the
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