New figures show year of stability for London’s pubs

24 August 2019

New figures show year of stability for London’s pubs

• The number of pubs in London remained stable between 2017 and 2018
• 11 boroughs saw an increase in pub numbers after years of decline
• 74 per cent of Londoners think pubs are important for the capital’s cultural heritage

The number of pubs in London remained stable between 2017 and 2018 after falling by more than a quarter since 2001, new research by City Hall has shown. 

The figures, published today (Saturday, August 24) by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, identified 3,540 pubs in the capital in March 2018 – an increase of 10 pubs from 20171. A total of 11 boroughs saw an increase in pubs, with numbers staying the same in nine boroughs, but falling in 13 boroughs. The boroughs to see an increase were Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Hackney, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster.

The encouraging figures come after the Mayor revealed last month that the number of grassroots music venues in the capital has risen in the last year and the number of LGBTQ+ venues remained stable for a second year running, following a decade of decline for both.

The traditional London pub has long been a part of everyday life in the capital and research shows that, despite ongoing pressures, they remain a key part of life in the city. According to a City Hall survey, 74 per cent of Londoners think that they are important for the London’s cultural heritage, with 45 per cent visiting a pub at least once a month2. The main reasons for a visit are to socialise with friends (68 per cent) and eat (27 per cent). Pubs are also an important attraction for tourists, with previous research showing that 54 per cent of international visitors visited one during their stay in the capital3.

The mayor is doing everything within his powers to support the pub trade and London’s cultural venues. This includes tough new planning rules to protect venues in his draft London Plan – including protecting beer gardens and ensuring new developments are soundproofed – and establishing a world-first Culture at Risk Office to help support pubs at risk of closure. Sadiq has also called on the Government to review its valuation policy for pubs following large rises in business rates and ensure these crucial community hubs are supported.

As with the rest of the UK, London has seen a decline in pub numbers for decades, with the number of small pubs in London falling by more than half between 2001 and 2018. However, these new figures show signs of improvement as the number of both small and large pubs in the capital have increased very slightly between 2017 and 2018. There are now more large pubs in the capital than there were in 2001.

Employment across the pub sector has also remained stable between 2017 and 2018 at 46,000. However, despite recent improvements, a large proportion of jobs in London pubs continue to be paid below the London Living Wage.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London pubs have been a key part of our capital’s heritage for generations, helping to unite Londoners and acting as a vital hub in the community. Sadly their numbers have been falling for decades, which is why I’ve been doing all I can to support the trade and turn this tide of closures. I’m encouraged by these results, but with pressure from rates, rent and development, it’s crucial that the Government and local authorities give them their full support too.”

Hannah Wright, of The Leytonstone Tavern, said: “After being empty for four years, and saved at the last minute by a community asset order, we were anxious but incredibly proud to give the neighbourhood back its pub. The area is close to our hearts, so seeing everyone pile through the doors on opening night was both reassuring and gratifying. For us, a pub is more than just a place where you serve drinks. It’s a sanctuary for the whole community, existing to help people create real human connections and feel a sense of worth. And it needs to serve it’s locals. That means putting on events for our Little Taverner’s, hosting weddings and all the way through to botanical workshops – as well as never forgetting the glorious, simple act of a good pint and chat with the bar staff.”

Don O’Rourke, CEO for Cityglen, said: “Launching a new pub in South East London’s budding area Gipsy Hill is an exciting and fantastic opportunity for us. We want The Great Southern to be a hub and meeting place for the local community.”


Notes to editors:

1 The Mayor’s annual pub audit will be published here: Please email [email protected] for the full embargoed report.

The audit uses data from The Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) – which is viewed as the most reliable form of information by which to measure pub openings and closures. It is important to note that this data is rounded to the nearest five.

2 All survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,349 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25 - 28 February 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+). Full results can be found at poll - Feb 2019 YouGov GLA .xls

3 According to the London Visitor Survey (London and Partners, 2016)

Figures reveal LGBTQ+ venue numbers remain stable for a second year -

London sees rise in grassroots music venues -

The Mayor’s draft London Plan:

• pushes local authorities to recognise the heritage, economic, social and cultural value of pubs and ensure they are protected for local communities.

• asks boroughs to back proposals for new pubs to be built in appropriate locations, to stimulate town centre regeneration

• introduced the Agent of Change principle so that developers building new residential properties near pubs will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound from nearby pubs, clubs and live music venues

• urges boroughs to resist applications to redevelop areas directly connected to public houses – such as beer gardens, function rooms or landlord accommodation – so that they retain their appeal to local people and visitors and remain viable businesses

Pub numbers in 2018 by borough and total change since 2017

 Pubs - 2018 Change 2017/18
Barking and Dagenham 20 0
Barnet 75 -5
Bexley 90 -5
Brent 75 5
Bromley 105 10
Camden 230 -5
City of London 160 0
Croydon 90 5
Ealing 95 0
Enfield 60 -5
Greenwich 75 0
Hackney 185 10
Hammersmith and Fulham 100 -5
Haringey 65 -5
Harrow 50 5
Havering 60 0
Hillingdon 85 0
Hounslow 75 -5
Islington 215 10
Kensington and Chelsea 110 -10
Kingston upon Thames 60 -5
Lambeth 145 5
Lewisham 90 20
Merton 45 0
Newham 45 -5
Redbridge 50 -5
Richmond upon Thames 115 -10
Southwark 175 0
Sutton 50 -5
Tower Hamlets 130 10
Waltham Forest 45 0
Wandsworth 135 5
Westminster 430 5


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