Published on Wednesday, 22nd April 2015

There were a few surprises in the latest round of updates to the General Permitted Development Order, the government document that dictates what does and does not need planning permission.


The most consequential change was that the government's experiment in allowing any office to be converted into flats has been judged a failure and will not be continued. More on that in a later article.


A more surprising change is a move to take away rights to convert pubs to shops in those instances which have been identified as of community importance.


At the start of its term in office, the government introduced a Community Asset Register and a Community Right to Bid. This allows local residents to ask their local authority to put buildings that they consider of importance on a list and once on that list they enjoy some protection from change of use. In essence while a protected building can be sold if the intention is to continue the protected use, they cannot be sold for other purposes without first giving residents six months to raise the money and buy the building themselves.



This legislation was aimed primarily at giving villagers an opportunity to save their only shop or pub if it threatened with closure. Of course the village then has to come together to find the money and to run the enterprise, which generally it cannot do.


The changes to planning rules mean that any pub on the list cannot be converted to a restaurant or supermarket without planning consent. As things stand pubs can be converted in this way and sometimes are - the Oakwood, Hilsea and the Devonshire Arms have both used this exemption to become supermarkets and the New Inn, Drayton has become a restaurant.


As things stand there are no pubs - or indeed no buildings of any type - on the Community Asset Register and where there are other pubs nearby it would be difficult to justify adding them. However there are locations where it could work.


A word of warning though: the Sunshine Inn, Farlington was the last pub in that area. It was been offered to tenants on very generous terms, but has found no takers. Planning rules cannot make someone operating a business at a loss.



In Portsmouth there are no properties on the protected list, although there was one application, covering St Peter's church theatre, which was rejected on the legalistic grounds that it was never truly a theatre.

Tags : Planning, Pubs