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This motion will be submitted for debate at next Wednesday’s full meeting of Tower Hamlets council:

Protecting community pubs

Proposer: Cllr Amy Whitelock
Seconder: Cllr Denise Jones

This council notes:

  • That in addition to the provision of its own services the Council should support through its policies and the exercise of its powers a network of well-run community facilities, including shops, pubs, advice centres, places of worship and other local forums and services which are valued by residents. As an example of these, community pubs provide a valuable community service for those who choose to use them. 
  • Twenty-six pubs close every week across the country. In Tower Hamlets many pubs have already been converted to flats or stand empty.
  • Recently local pubs such as The Sun in Bethnal Green and the Britannia pub in Mile End have closed down, to the disappointment of local residents.
  • Pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year and support almost one million UK jobs, 46% of whom are 16 – 24 year olds.
  • That whilst some pubs can have anti-social behaviour problems which the Council should challenge, the majority offer a positive contribution to our borough and are part of a balanced and inclusive community offering that helps to define the local quality of life.

This council further notes:

  • The recently adopted Managing Development Document policy DM8 specifies that social and community facilities, such as public houses, will be protected where they meet an identified local need and the buildings are suitable for their use.
  • That while conversion of pubs to residential use would be resisted as contrary to planning policy, this does not automatically mean such applications would be rejected.
  • Residents often feel they have no opportunity to prevent their local pubs from being sold off or converted to flats.
  • The demolition of pubs is classed as “permitted development” means planning permission is not required. Between 2003 and 2012, 414 former pubs were demolished in London alone.

This council believes:

  • Local pubs are a hugely important community hub, bringing local people together and providing social inclusion opportunities.
  • While pubs that cause antisocial behaviour should be subject to enforcement action, well managed community pubs should be protected by the council.

This council resolves:

  • To work with residents to list local pubs as Assets of Community Value under the Localism Act, giving greater protection against pubs being sold off to developers.
  • To support the Sustainable Communities Act proposal: “That the Secretary of State help protect community pubs in England by ensuring that planning permission and community consultation are required before community pubs are allowed to be converted to betting shops, supermarkets and pay-day loan stores or other uses, or are allowed to be demolished.”

To work together with Local Works and the Campaign for Real Ale to gain support for the proposal from other councils in the region and across the country.

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