Are Assets of Community Value ACV the way to save your local pub?
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) tells us that over 200 pubs have converted into supermarkets in the last few years. More than half of these fell to the Tesco Express brand. As a result CAMRA called on the government to tighten the current permitted development rights that allow such conversions without needing planning permission. The question is, are Assets of Community Value the answer?
A growing number of local communities have put pressure on their MP’s to look at measures to protect their neighbourhood pub. Even the BBC have pitched in with their own thoughts on what is happening to the local pub. The link below takes you to an interesting podcast from their Food Programme feature in 2014.
The response from Government came through the Localism Act. Where the local community request it, the resulting ‘Asset of Community Value (ACV) legislation is designed to protect pubs. As few as 21 people can support an Asset of Community Value. If registered it means demolition or conversion for development will need planning permission.
Wikipedia tells us that by late 2015 over 860 pubs had been listed as ACV’s. The result means that if an owner wants to sell, residents can put in place a 6 month moratorium in which to raise the funds to buy. Full guidance on how to register your local pub as an ACV can be found on the CAMRA website.
But is protecting the local pub as Assets of Community Value the only answer? After all, pubs will only be saved where money can be raised to protect them. Indeed, you might think there is a certain inevitability about the redevelopment of most pubs.
At a time when 27 pubs per week are closing it may be that the Government should be using the carrot, not the stick…
A more positive solution would be for the Government to cut beer duty. At 52p per pint the UK has the highest rate of tax on beer of the top brewing countries in Europe.
As a member of the EU the UK pays almost 40% of all EU beer duty. Following Brexit, we have the opportunity change this?
ACV’s provide a useful tool for local communities to make an attempt to save their much-loved neighbourhood pub. However, the pub would not be under threat if it was used more. Many might argue this is less a planning argument and more about economics.
Cheaper beer at the point of sale and a return to a truly local branding will transform the future of the local pub. The Telegraph produced an excellent article on the way in which pubs should and are changing. To them:
‘A local pub is for local people, and works best when it reflects something of a place and the folk who live there.’
Farmers’ Markets celebrate local foods and pubs should do the same with both beer and surroundings reflecting where they are. When that happens we may just start to spend more time in them.
We should probably complain less about the planning that brought about the new Tesco Express. Instead wonder why it was we weren’t visiting that pub before it closed down.