It seems so.
Tory controlled Brentwood council seemed adamant – particularly Councillor Parker who wanted Warley bulldozed – that Tesco couldn’t be stopped, and they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) get in the way.
But the following news from the ‘Tescopoly’ website seems to suggest it is possible to halt the supermarket takeover of our pubs…
1) Novel planning measures to protect pubs for re-development
Cambridge City Council has pioneered groundbreaking planning guidance to protect local pubs from change of use, conversion and redevelopment. The policy guidance was drawn up in response to the closure of over 20 pubs in the city over a five-year period. It builds on measures envisaged by the 2011 Localism Act to give communities a greater say over their future.
Applicants now planning to redevelop a pub in Cambridge must prove that “all reasonable efforts” have been made to preserve the site in its current usage. This includes showing that the site has been marketed unsuccessfully as a pub, restaurant or alternative community facility for 12 months at a price agreed with the Council.
Applicants must also provide evidence that it would “not be economically viable” to retain the site as a pub (or a restaurant or community facility) and demonstrate that local area no longer needs such provision.
2) Community efforts to list pubs as community assets
Under the 2011 Localism Act, communities can list buildings and land of special value to the community as community valued assets (CVA). If a CVA comes up for sale, communities then have a six-month window of opportunity to purchase the site (See briefing for more details). Several communities have recently listed pubs as CVAs as part of campaigning efforts to prevent supermarket chains from re-developing the sites.
The George IV pub, Brixton Hill, London:
In April 2013, the George IV pub was listed as a CVA by Lambeth Council. The ‘Save George IV’ campaign
The Golden Harp pub, Maidenhead:
In February 2013, a group of local residents, the Furze Platt Action Group
(FPAG), nominated the Golden Harp pub as a CVA.
In April 2013, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead listed the site as CVA. The FPAG campaign is ongoing and in June 2013 the Council voted unanimously to reject Tesco’s planning applications on the site (see below).
3) Article Four Directions
An Article Four Direction serves to suspend permitted development rights. That is, it requires a developer to submit a planning application where it would not be required to usually, such as for the conversion of a pub into a shop. A Local Planning Authority can make an Article Four Direction under the 1995 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, although it must also be confirmed the Government.
In March 2013, FPAG sent an open letter to the head of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council requesting an Article Four Direction be served to force Tesco to seek full planning permission to covert the Golden Harp pub (see above).
In April 2013, a Council meeting voted to defer the decision of enacting an Article Four Direction to the Development Control Panel (DCP). The DCP, however, voted against the measure, with the press and public excluded from the debate. FPAG have argued that according to planning lawyers, compensation payments would be limited and there was so far no similar case of compensation being awarded.
…so while other councils do their best to support their communities and reduce the creeping decimation of towns and high streets, Brentwood sat back and did nothing. Do remember that when next you have a chance to vote.