How to stop pubs closing

Promoting, supporting and protecting pubs

Why Pubs Matter - IconStop The Pubs Closing Scandal

It is scandal that every year, many viable and wanted pubs are closed: pubs that have served local communities for many years and pubs that could and should have continued to contribute to community life and the local economy.

There are many reasons for pubs closing – but often these are not the ones presented by those seeking to close them. The fact is that many pubs are closed not because they are not viable or wanted, they are closed so that owners can cash in by selling off the pub for development or for alternative use.

Members of the Campaign for Pubs, the British Pub Confederation and Protect Pubs led the successful campaign to end ‘permitted development rights’. This stopped the absurd situation where pubs could simply be converted into supermarkets and other commercial uses with no need for planning permission, thus depriving communities of any say over the loss of a valued local.

However pubs are still at risk from owners, especially the large pub companies, seeking to sell them off for development and alternative use, as well as from predatory purchasing by supermarkets and others who are only interested in pub sites for their redevelopment value. A huge problem, especially in London but also elsewhere, is that the redevelopment value of a pub – especially a large pub site with a garden or car park – is greater, often far greater, than the value of that pub as a going concern.

This makes pubs especially attractive to predatory purchasing and has led to many viable, indeed profitable pubs being closed, against the wishes of local communities and often pubs landlords.

Pub ViabilityPub Viability – The Truth

A viable pub is simply one that can make enough to cover its bills, pay the wages of its staff and fund the necessary upkeep of the building, plus in the case of a non-community pub, leaving enough to make an acceptable living for the business owner/operator. In the case of a community pub, it just needs to cover its costs and wages and the upkeep of the building. That is still a viable and sustainable pub model – and allows a pub to continue to operate and employ local people bring money into the local community, which otherwise would be lost.

Often pubcos, supermarkets and developers cynically argue that pubs are not ‘viable’ because they haven’t made enough to suit their own inflated commercial interests, even though the pub has a good turnover and is profitable. Sometimes, even despite profitability, pub owners seek to close and develop pubs to cash in. It is wrong that any viable pub should be lost, especially where there is an individual, company or community prepared to buy it and retain it as a pub.

Many licensees, communities and other companies and individuals have been denied the chance to buy and run a pub, which is outrageous. Councils often fall for claims by developers planning consultants that pubs are ‘unviable’ and worse still have ignored the fact that a pub did have a clear and viable future as a pub. This must stop.

Closed Pub
Closed Pub
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Closed Pub

Help Save PubsHow You Can Help Save Pubs Nationally

There are some key national policy changes that are needed to support, protect and stop pubs closing – and you can see more about these on our campaigns page.

It is easy for our politicians to say that they value pubs – but much harder to get them to make policies and pass laws to actually support and protect pubs.

There are key national policy changes needed to support, protect and save pubs – and you can see more about these on our campaigns page.

It’s easy for our politicians to say that they value pubs – but much harder to get them to make policies and pass laws to actually support and protect pubs.

  • We need to see proper protection for pubs in the planning system – by adopting the simple principle that no pub should close where there is someone able and prepared to buy it, at its price of a pub, see Give Pubs Protection campaign page.
  • We need the Fair Deal for Your Local that was promised but not delivered by Government and Parliament.
  • We need to see fairer taxation for pubs – which means a reform of the rates system. See our Fair Tax for Pubs page.

Help Save PubsHow You Can Help Save Pubs Locally

There are various ways in which communities can protect and stop pubs closing in their area, and these are laid out in detail on the website of our campaign partners Protect Pubs

Pubs can be listed as Assets of Community Value. A community group needs to apply for a listing to the local council, and if the pub is successfully listed (as pubs should be, without good reason) then this allows the community to hear if a pub is being sold, and furthermore gives the nominating group the statutory right to secure a 6 month moratorium during which they can make a bid. Read more about ACVs on the Protect Pubs website

With or without an ACV, any conversion of a pub, development or demolition has to go through the planning system – so you can object to the planning application. (An ACV can give a pub additional protection in the planning system as it is recognised as a “material consideration”.)

Help Save PubsMore Pubs In Local Hands

Far too many of our valued and historic pubs have been lost due to distant corporate interests, serving only the interests of shareholders, creditors and executives bonuses, which have over-ridden those of the small business owners actually operating each pub and the local communities that rely on them.

Far too many pubs still remain in the hands of large pub companies and giant breweries and other detached largely commercial property owners who simply see pubs as a source of rent without caring about the community role.We need many more pubs in local ownership, in the hands of those who actually run or local breweries, ethical independent pub companies, passionate pro-pub entrepreneurs and communities. We need pubs to be owned by those with a genuine sense of responsible stewardship, who place real value on the inherent importance of each pub to its community.

More pubs in local hands means a much healthier, more competitive, more diverse, independent and far more sustainable future for our pubs, with fewer pubs beholden to shareholders and creditors and far more pubs connected to their communities and to local suppliers.We support co-operative and community ownership, which is particularly important for pubs that might be deemed only marginally viable, and we commend the amazing communities who have bought and run their local pubs, often bringing them back from the very brink of oblivion. We support and commend the excellent work of the Plunkett Foundation in supporting community pubs, and recommend that anyone considering a community pub in their area make contact with them.

Help Save PubsSupport Your Local Pubs!

It is, of course, vital above all else that people continue to make a point of actively using and enjoying our pubs! A pub of any kind can only operate and survive if people support them.

If we ensure we visit our local pubs on a regular basis, and also campaign together to support, promote and protect pubs everywhere, then we can turn the tide of closures, and the future for pubs can be bright!

You can help this happen – join the Campaign for Pubs today!

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For less than the cost of a pint per month you can help save our pubs!

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