Recent figures show that three pubs are closing each day on average
and in December the Countryside Agency announced that
six village pubs are closing permanently each week (many to become housing).
CAMRA has designed a Public House Viability Test which can be used by
planners and locals to assess cases. It's due out in the New Year.
Hopefully this will add much-needed objectivity and consistency.
This is part of CAMRA's push in this area, spearheaded by the caseworker
based at CAMRA HQ in St Albans, Geoff Brandwood, who's a council planner there.
A cautionary tale
The last pub in the village of High Easter, Essex, has closed after a planning battle.
It's reckoned to date to 1615 but that didn't save it.
It's the same old story: the owners couldn't make a success of it and put it up for sale as a house.
Uttlesford District Council refused change-of-use permission, even though
they have no policy covering pub closures (a common problem).
On appeal the planning Inspector ruled for the owners, fearing for the historic building if it was disused.
The 17th-century Rising Sun, Dutton, near Gt. Dunmow, has been closed by Ridleys and converted to a house.
This was also opposed by Uttlesford D.C.
(Licensee & Morning Advertiser 26-Aug-1999, 30-Sep)
The Hoops at Great Eversden
and The Kings at Reach
(now renamed back to The Dyke's End) have been saved by their villages and have reopened,
serving real ale and food.
They were sold by owners who couldn't make a success of
them as pubs and wanted to sell them as houses.
Government support scheme
The trial scheme in Lincolnshire reported in
ALE 293 found
that of the 100 pubs mailshotted for possible assistance, none responded.
A questionnaire was then sent to find out why.
Answer: letters from "the council" are distrusted.
A plainer letter was then sent, with a good response.
Fifteen pubs may now get up to £5,000 each towards developing their
businesses, for instance by diversifying into shops.
The Rural Development Commission is now the Countryside Agency
and may take the scheme nationwide.
ALE November 1999 No. 296
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