Stop The Death Of The Pub
Our pubs are closing at an alarming rate; it has recently been suggested that 4 pubs a day are shutting down. What can we do to stop this epidemic?
The latest studies from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) suggest that a staggering 29 pubs a week are shutting down. This is the equivalent of losing four pubs a day. Though there are still around 48,000 pubs in England, around 29,000 have now been closed. This equates to an epidemic of lost pubs. The repercussions are many: lost livelihoods, the creeping influence of developers, the destruction of historic buildings and the loss of community space.
Essex has lost many wonderful pubs over the years, some of our favourite lost pubs include the Sportsman’s Arms in Nounsley, The Mashbury Fox, Queen’s Head in Purleigh, Prince of Wales in Inworth (now The Red Dog Cafe), and the Wheatsheaf in Rettendon. The Lost Pubs Project lists hundreds in Essex. Chelmsford alone has lost 24 pubs.
Why are pubs closing down?
There are many reasons behind this haemorrhaging of pubs in Britain. In the wake of the recession, many cut down on going out to pubs. They instead opted to buy alcohol from the supermarket, where it is often far cheaper with a range of attractive offers.
The smoking ban has also had an impact, especially in the winter, when smokers do not wish to stand in the cold to enjoy a cigarette. Amongst the young, pubs are also less popular than they once were. Some look to social media to explain this, arguing that young people no longer feel such a need to go to pubs when they can easily communicate on Facebook or Snapchat.
Perhaps the biggest villain in this story, though, is the developer. Pubs are often seen as soft targets for property developers, as they tend to come with permitted development rights. These rights mean that the law allows many pubs to be redeveloped for residential use without obtaining new planning permission first. This has led to many pubs being turned into expensive flats; especially in London where there is a property deficit and prices are sky-high.
What can be done to save pubs?
Despite the threat of closure, the good news is that much can be done to save pubs. Landlords and dedicated locals can club together and take various steps to save their local.
List your pub as an Asset of Community Value
If your pub is being threatened with closure, then the first step would be to list it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). Such a listing will protect it from demolition or change of use, meaning that it will wreak havoc with the plans of any potential investors.
Form a Co-operative
There are several pubs in the UK that have been taken over by co-operatives of locals, eager to save their pubs. This is especially true in rural villages, where pubs tend to be at the heart of a community. There are various ways this can be executed – either through locals taking out a lease, or raising the capital to purchase the building. This is sometimes achieved through the sale of shares. Although such action can be complicated, it has proved successful for many groups of locals around the country.
Insure your pub
If you own a pub, then it is possible to take out insurance to protect your building and its contents should you be under threat. It can also provide legal protection under such circumstances, also covering your business income should you be unable to trade.
The bottom line is, pubs need local support. So, head to you local for a few drinks this weekend, enter their pub quiz, go along and see a band play an enjoy their summer BBQs. Don’t take your local pub for granted, as it might not be there when you want it come summer.