Rule change may save Portsmouth pubs from closure

110286-8984 WYMERING PUB (NEWS) MRW 26/1/2011''The Wymering - public house on Medina Road Cosham '''Picture: Malcolm Wells (110286-8984)
110286-8984 WYMERING PUB (NEWS) MRW 26/1/2011''The Wymering - public house on Medina Road Cosham '''Picture: Malcolm Wells (110286-8984)
Councillor Luke Stubbs

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A PLAN to help save Portsmouth pubs from closure could be written into the city’s planning rules.

The provision – inspired by our ‘Love Your Local’ campaign – would mean pub owners must prove they have tried to make the business work, before demolishing and replacing it with houses.

It was suggested by Portsmouth City Council Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs, who said: ‘I wanted to do this because pubs are a facility in our city, and too many are being closed. In some areas, like Paulsgrove, very few remain. I saw the Love Your Local campaign, and as a member of the city’s planning committee, I saw the number of pub demolition applications being made that come before us, and thought something should be done.’

Our campaign was inspired by Havant Borough Council, who already have a similar rule.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘I saw they could do it, and presented the idea to the council. I don’t want pubs that can’t operate to be forced to stay open, but I want to make sure we do everything we can to save pubs across the city, as they’re places for the community to meet and talk.’

The suggestion will be considered by the council’s economic development scrutiny panel.

It comes as an application to demolish and replace the Wymering Arms, on Medina Road, Wymering, with 15 flats, was turned down at the council’s planning committee meeting on Wednesday.

The pub was closed in March, and is owned by development firm Bacchus, which had its first application for demolition refused in the same month.

Planning committee member Cllr Donna Jones said: ‘The new application was much better, but we had to turn it down for parking reasons.

‘There were only 12 spaces for 15 flats, which isn’t enough.

‘We also felt it was too big. But it was an improvement on the last design, which we felt needed improving.’

But the company will appeal against the first refusal, and fellow planning committee member Cllr Lee Hunt said: ‘I thought this one should have been approved.

‘I fear the earlier, worse application may win at appeal, and that means that would get built instead of this one, with less parking and a worse design.’