“In defence of pubs”: The proposed removal of permitted development rights

Posted by Guthrie McGruer, 6th April 2017
The removal of permitted development rights relating to the change of use or demolition of drinking establishments has been tabled as an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.  This is in line with Lord Kennedy of Southwark’s amendment at the Bill’s report stage, during which he commented: “my amendment gives the local community a proper say in the sort of development it wants in its area and will stop local assets being lost forever with local people having no say. Surely that is something we should all support.”

What the law currently says

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, planning permission is required where any “development” is carried out on land. Any “material change of use” is within the definition of development, and as a result, the basic requirement is that planning permission should be obtained where there is a material change of use to any buildings or land.

The General Permitted Development Order 2015 sets out instances where some material changes of use do not require planning permission from the local planning authority. The change of use from drinking establishments (Class A4) to shops (Class A1), financial and professional services (Class A2) or restaurants and cafes (Class A3) are currently “permitted developments” with deemed planning permission without the need for a developer to make a formal application for planning permission. Although restrictions were introduced in relation to being able to rely on permitted development rights for drinking establishments designated as Assets of Community Value.

What the proposal would mean

The proposed amendment as it stands would remove permitted development rights for Class A4 drinking establishments.  It also proposes to remove the ability to demolish buildings under permitted development rights which are currently used for Class A4 purposes or were last used for such purpose.


The tabled amendment has been received positively by campaigners such as Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), but as Kris Hopkins commented back in January 2015: “the planning system can only do so much: planning rules cannot keep pubs open which are not making money.”

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