Call time on pub closures, Assembly tells Mayor

05 March 2014

The London Assembly is urging the Mayor to use his planning strategy to give greater protection to pubs in London.

A motion agreed unanimously by the Assembly today calls on the Mayor to revise his London Plan to include new guidance for local authorities to promote pubs and protect them from unnecessary changes of use.

Murad Qureshi AM, who proposed the motion said:

“Public houses are the hubs of communities where locals gather with friends and families to socialise and they are currently under threat across London. A great number of pubs in the capital have closed down and this is detrimental to the communities they once served. The Mayor should strengthen the London Plan so that local authorities have the ability to protect these community pillars.”

Steve O’Connell AM, who amended the motion said:

“As my report Keeping Local outlines, our public houses have a historic role in binding communities together and they deserve the Mayor’s support.”

The full text of the amended motion agreed at today’s meeting reads as follows:

“This Assembly recognises that public houses are important community assets that cater to a broad clientele with a diverse range of needs. They are hubs of communities where people gather with friends, enjoy a family lunch at the weekend, and run into neighbours for a chat. Pubs also often provide affordable community space where community groups meet and otherwise act as anchors of the local community.

Yet these stalwarts of the high street are under threat. Across the country, pubs are closing at a rate of 26 a week, with London’s public houses being amongst the hardest hit.

This Assembly therefore welcomes the guidance in the draft London Plan alterations which recognises for the first time “the important role that London's public houses can play in the social fabric of communities” and encourages local authorities to adopt policies to maintain, manage, and enhance public houses, as well as the new policy wording which encourages boroughs to develop polices to prevent their loss. However, the London Plan must be strengthened further if local authorities are to be given the additional tools to protect threatened pubs through their own local planning policies. The Plan must include additional policies which set out a clear inclination to retain pubs, such as a presumption against change of use where a developer is unable to meet strict criteria for the marketing and viability of the site.

This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor of London to revise his Further Alterations to the London Plan to include further guidance for local authorities to promote and protect pubs.”

Notes to editors

1. Watch the webcast.

2. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Kiran Dhaliwal on 020 7983 4504. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.