Ministers warned on ‘rush’ of pub conversions

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A CRACKDOWN on pubs being turned into supermarkets or housing by ‘predatory’ developers could lead to a ‘rush’ of conversions and demolitions, ministers have been warned.

The government has bowed to pressure from the House of Lords to remove permitted development rights for pubs, which currently allow developers to change the use of a building without needing formal planning permission.

Ministers have brought forward proposals to force businesses to submit a planning application if they want to convert a pub, therefore allowing communities to have their say on plans.

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said the new rules, set out in an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, should be in place by July.

But MPs fear there could be a surge of pub conversions between now and then.

Labour’s Gill Furniss said: ‘The question of timing is crucial. If the time window before the regulations come in is too large, developers will simply bring forward their plans and pubs will continue to become car parks or retail or housing.’

Toby Perkins, the Labour chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on pubs, said the move will ‘make a material difference to the fortunes of many of Britain’s 48,000 pubs’.

However, he also expressed concerns about the timing of implementation.

He said: ‘It is important that everyone takes any steps that they can to prevent a rush of conversions or demolitions before the regulations are in place.’