When the Localism Act was introduced in late 2011 the hope was that pubs under threat of sale could be listed as Assets of Community Value (ACV). This would secure local communities the opportunity to bid for the asset before it was sold on to developers and demolished or redeveloped into something else.
However, the owners of pubs were eligible to rely on all available permitted development rights even if the pub was an ACV. There would be no "disposal" of the asset triggering any protections, but the pub would be converted into another use circumnavigating the legislation.
The General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) has now been consolidated into a new order, essentially a tidying-up exercise given the numerous amendments made to the original 1995 order.
Under the new GPDO, pubs have a development right to convert to a Class A1 shop, a Class A2 use (financial & professional services) or a restaurant or café, without needing to seek planning permission. Plainly, this would usurp any local desire to see the pub continue in its current guise.
Therefore, if the building is not already an ACV, then before exercising the new permitted development right the developer must first write to the local planning authority to check whether the building has been nominated as an ACV. If a nomination is then made, the change of use is not permitted so long as the pub remains on the ACV list. If the pub was already an ACV, then the Permitted Development Right is unavailable.
In the recent case of Evenden Estates v Brighton & Hove CC, the First-tier Tribunal ruled that where an application for residential conversion of a pub remained undetermined, the pub could still qualify as an ACV. This will not necessarily block the conversion of the property, but it could certainly cause delay.
Rob Atkin-House is a solicitor in the Real Estate department, specialising in planning.