Public Houses

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Following your landmark protections for pubs in the London Plan, in your capacity as mayor would you support similar action at a national level to strengthen rules on Assets of Community Value and other planning regulations?


Answer for Public Houses

Answer for Public Houses

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thank you.  Steve, the scheme we have going is very valuable and I obviously would like to see any national strengthening of those rules on assets of community value (ACVs), but I am very pleased you have led in Croydon and elsewhere by championing local pubs.  I vividly remember going with you to a pub.  Was it in Carshalton? 

Steve O’Connell AM:  The Hope.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It was the Hope, which was at risk of being closed down, I think I am right in saying, and it is now an absolute mecca for sales of real ale ‑‑

Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ if you can have a mecca for sales of real ale.

Steve O’Connell AM:  That is a contradiction, actually.  Mr Mayor, I thank you for your work and placing of protection within the London Plan.  Would you agree to lobby the Government both as Mayor and as an MP to support the campaign by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and others to change the national planning rules to enable it to require planning permission for all types of redevelopment and change of use of pubs?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have quite a good balance going now, which is that under the ACV idea that we introduced into the Further Alterations to the London Plan, local communities can apply to their local authority for this designation and they then have 56 days under the Community Rights to Buy to see whether they want to save the pub under this measure.  So far, we have had the Ivy House in Nunhead, the Chesham Arms in Hackney, the George IV in Brixton Hill, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Kennington Hill, the Honor Oak Pub in Forest Hill, the White Swan and the Bugle Horn, both in Charlton, and the Plume of Feathers in Plumstead.  They all have that status.

Steve O’Connell AM:  Yes, I am aware of that.  I am aware of the advantages of the ACV, but the fact of the matter is that planning permission is only required when a public house is turned into flats.  What we are talking about here is a wholesale destruction of community pubs to be switched into supermarkets, mosques, etc.  That, at present, does not need planning permission.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, I understand, like the threat to The Hope.

Steve O’Connell AM:  Yes.  I am urging you to use your influence to enable us to have the requirement for planning permission any time a community pub is closed, notwithstanding the ACV.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  OK.  It is not just to residential but to any other use other than the pub?

Steve O’Connell AM:  Yes.  That is the campaign.  That is what I am asking for your support on.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  OK.  I will certainly – What I don’t want to see --.  You see an awful lot of pubs abandoned, shuttered and not being used for anything.

Steve O’Connell AM:  This is only for proven community pubs of community use.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That would be the issue, yes.

Steve O’Connell AM:  I move on to the second point.  You mentioned ACVs.  Many boroughs at the moment are actually rejecting applications for ACVs and at the moment there is no appeals process against these borough decisions.  Do you share my concerns around that and would you, again, support a campaign whereby, if an ACV is refused by a borough, there is an appeals process by the community groups against that decision? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I do not know quite what that appeals process would be and to whom they would appeal but ‑‑

Steve O’Connell AM:  The council.

Steve O’Connell AM:  The council makes the decision to grant the ACV and some councils - I have an example of Enfield’s decision regarding The Green Dragon - have quite shamefully decided against granting the ACV.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The council did or the planning officers did?

Steve O’Connell AM:  Well, the council planning officers. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Then the people of Enfield, obviously, could vote to remove the councillors concerned.

Steve O’Connell AM:  Good point.  However, there is no appeals process.  It is a one-way system.  What we want is an appeals process whereby, if the council or planning officers refuse it, the community group that applied in the first place can appeal properly against that decision.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  To the whole council?

Steve O’Connell AM:  Would you support that in principle?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, but who are they appealing to?

Steve O’Connell AM:  They would have to appeal to a third party.  They would go back to the planning process.  They would have to work it through.  We would need to work it through, Mr Mayor, but would you agree in principle that an appeals process, to be worked through, is a good idea?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.  You would need to work out on what basis they were appealing, to which higher authority, how exactly that would work and what the ramifications of that would be for the whole planning process and indeed for local democracy.

Steve O’Connell AM:  I get that.  It is just ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Let me think about that.  The best thing to do is to kick out the councillors who close down pubs.

Steve O’Connell AM:  Exactly.  My last point - and this is really something that you do have some responsibility around - is talking about the Great Beer Festival this year, which we had upwards of 50,000 people enjoying.  It was a fantastic event in London.  TfL this year decided not to run the Earls Court-to-Olympia Tube line during that beer festival.  It has done it in previous years.  This is something that is very disappointing.  There are upwards of 50,000 Londoners going and enjoying themselves.  Apparently TfL has made the decision not to run it this year.  I have written to TfL and to you.  Can I urge you to look at that decision and see if you can rescind that?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Sorry, a decision?

Steve O’Connell AM:  Each year, there is an extra shuttle service during the CAMRA beer festival to run the Earls Court-to-Olympia Tube line.  TfL has decided - on cost reasons, apparently, I am told - not to do it this year and I am appealing you to review that decision.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Let me look into it.  I am sorry.  I will not give you that guarantee now but I will certainly raise it with TfL. 

Steve O’Connell AM:  I would like you to look into it.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I certainly will.

Steve O’Connell AM:  That is all I need.

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  The Transport Committee would support that.

Steve O’Connell AM:  Good.  I have the hefty weight of the Transport Committee behind me.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Yes.  No, that is lovely.  I love the link with CAMRA beer festival.  OK, let us move on to the next ‑‑

Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you.  Have you ‑‑

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Have you finished?

Steve O’Connell AM:  Yes, I have.  Yes, thank you.