Campaigners step up bid to get planning law stifling pubs changed

The Mother Shipton pub
The Mother Shipton pub
James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

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Renewed calls have been made for a change in planning laws to prevent pubs being turned into shops without the need for consent.

A Commons motion signed by more than 80 MPs has called for the General Permitted Development Order 1995 – which allows conversions – to be amended.

It comes after the Campaign for Real Ale revealed 31 pubs are still closing each week, with two a week being lost to supermarkets.

More than 10,000 pub campaigners have also signed a petition demanding a change in the law to enable locals to be protected against retail use.

Martyn Constable, of Camra’s Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire branch, said it was frustrating to see pub companies off-loading boozers to retailers instead of giving people using them the opportunity to make a bid.

The News has already revealed how The Mother Shipton, in Stamshaw, was snapped up by a property developer despite repeated promises given to landlady Andrea Best it was available for her to buy.

Mr Constable said: ‘The way the law stands, provided it’s going to be a retail outlet that still sells alcohol, companies don’t have to apply for planning permission to turn a pub into a supermarket – which personally I think is wrong.

‘A convenience shop is not a pub.

‘We have seen quite a few pubs across Portsmouth being turned into shops.

‘The problem is the pub companies are allowed to sell them off without putting them on the open market.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said he has signed the Commons motion in the hope there will be a change in the government’s stance.

And Miles Grindey, the Green Party’s general election candidate for Fareham, has also announced he is backing Camra’s campaign to keep pubs open.

Stuart Ainsworth, landlord of The Leopold Tavern, in Albert Road, Southsea, said: ‘The planning laws are being abused.

‘You don’t need planning permission to turn a pub into a supermarket – how does that seem right?

‘If I wanted to open up another bar, I would have to go through the planning process.

‘It should work both ways.’

Tom Stainer, who is based at Camra’s headquarters, said: ‘The lack of protection for pubs is a glaring anomaly in the English planning system which needs to be corrected.

‘It is surely not right that a supermarket convenience store is given greater planning protection than a valued community pub.’