Converting a Pub to Retail or Residential Use.
What are the Planning Considerations?
Times are hard for the traditional English Pub. The pub as we know it has changed drastically. In many English towns a traditional public house can be hard to find. For a number of reasons, pubs all over the country have been closing their doors, or diversifying into new areas.
The pandemic has brought further difficulty to the pub trade. Over the past year pubs have been closed for many months. Landlords and breweries have had to make hard decisions about the viability of their public houses.
So, in the worst case, when a pub can no longer remain in business, what are the options for the building? And what needs to be considered from a Planning point of view?
From Pub to Shop, House or Flats
Many pubs have been turned into local convenience stores. Generally, this change of use does not require planning permission. However, other elements, for example new signage, and change of access, may require planning permission.
Another alternative is conversion to residential use, whether as a single dwelling or multiple flats. This can prove a more difficult task to achieve from a planning standpoint because certain criteria need to be met before the principle of the change of use will be accepted.
Of course, there are other options. A closed pub near me has been converted into a day nursery!
Change of Use – Proving Your Case
The applicant for planning permission must demonstrate that the existing pub business is no longer viable. Council Planning departments will be sympathetic to the fact that a pub business will be struggling during lockdown, but the business owner will need to demonstrate that the business has not been viable over a longer period. This evidence would need to be provided from the business bank accounts.
Additionally, the applicant would need to show that there is no longer a demand for a pub in the area. For instance, by providing proof that the business had been marketed actively over the past 12 – 18 months.
Having demonstrated that the business is no longer viable, the planning application would also need to show that the proposed change of use to residential would provide suitable accommodation for the local area, in terms of layout, design, amenity space, parking etc.
It is very sad that many traditional public houses are being lost. But with some inventiveness and thoughtful planning pub buildings can still play a valuable part in local life, as shops and housing. Even a day nursery!