Green light for new powers to safeguard declining Barking and Dagenham pub stock
- Credit: Archant
Powers to try and stem the tide of pubs being sold off or left to ruin have been green-lighted by councillors.
e how the last quarter of a century has seen them dwindle from down 28 – mostly in the last decade.
Cllr Liam Smith told the chamber the loss of pubs meant the loss of jobs in the area. “How many people have left school and got their first job working behind the bar?” he said. “These are jobs that have gone.
“If we aren’t careful, all these pubs will continue to go and we will lose a key part of our local community.”
Following a six-week consultation at the start of this year, it was recommended the council approve a supplementary planning order (SPO) that, once in force, would let the council resist the loss, change of use, redevelopment or demolition of a pub.
The SPO states a pub must have been marketed for a year as a pub at a council-agreed price, with “no interest in the free or leasehold as a pub” expressed in that time. Evidence must then show it is not “economically viable” for community use before a change of use application will be permitted.
According to the council’s report, the last five years have seen pubs calling last orders at a rate of knots. If closures do not slow down, there will be just 11 pubs left in the entire borough within a decade.
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Pub campaigners welcomed the move. Alan Barker, South West Essex branch secretary for the Campaign For Real Ale (Camra), said: “It sounds like a very positive step the council has taken. Pubs are a valuable place for meeting people – they bring all sorts together.”
He said their decline in the area was due to a number of factors, not least the increasing value of land in London – which might motivate owners turning a small profit to sell up – and changes in the demographic where pubs are no longer part of the culture.
But Cllr Lee Waker said pubs might be to blame for their own decline. “If they don’t modernise and adapt then they go,” he said.
“They haven’t always been seen as family-friendly places.”