Another south London council follows Wandsworth’s lead on historic pub protection

Published: Monday 20th March 17

Another London local authority is following Wandsworth’s lead and now offering its historic pubs and bars greater protection from redevelopment.

Last August Wandsworth became the first local authority to announce it was using planning laws to safeguard 120 of its most valuable and popular pubs – making it harder for developers to turn them into homes, offices or supermarkets.

It became the first council in England to publish ‘Article 4 Directions’ on such a scale meaning 120 valued local pubs could no longer be used for homes or another type of business without first obtaining planning permission.

The Selkirk in Tooting is included in the list of pubs to be protected

Without this change pubs could be turned into shops and other uses without planning consent under normal permitted development rights.

Now Southwark Council has adopted the same policy – further protecting and safeguarding the future of south London’s historic pubs and bars.

Strategic planning spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Southwark should be applauded for making this move. We hope other London councils will follow suit and join us and Southwark in adopting new rules that help safeguard London’s pub trade.

“In recent years too many local neighbourhood pubs,  including many that were viable and thriving businesses, were quietly converted into shops or supermarkets because councils were powerless to stop them.

“Big retailers were able to take advantage of ‘permitted development rights’ which meant changes could be made without needing planning permission.

“The rapid growth of mini-supermarkets exacerbated the problem, with the major chains competing all over the country to find new outlets and often choosing to convert pubs rather than taking over retail units. 

“Our breakthrough, now adopted by Southwark, was to take full advantage of recent changes in planning regulations to make sure 120 of our best loved pubs were covered by these Article 4 rules. New owners will need to ask the town hall for permission before being allowed to use the building for a different purpose.”

The 120 bars and pubs were chosen for their historic or architectural value and/or because they make a positive contribution to their community.

They include The Alma, The Ship and The Cat’s Back in Wandsworth, The Bricklayers Arms, The Arab Boy and The Railway in Putney, The Plough, The Falcon and The Beehive in Battersea, The Selkirk, The Trafalgar Arms and The Wheatsheaf in Tooting plus The Bedford, The Regent and The Prince of Wales in Balham.

A map showing the locations of all 120 pubs is available on the council’s website .

Some pubs that are currently closed have also been given protection, including the White Lion in Putney High Street and The Brewery Tap in Wandsworth High Street. It’s hoped this will give an added incentive to the owners to bring them back into use.

The Article 4 Directions were first published on 12 August 2016 and will come into force in August 2017.

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Recent comments

This is an absolutely brilliant initiative started by Wandsworth Council and I am so pleased to hear that Southwark is following suit. Pubs are an important part of our communities and many have moved on from just selling beer. Near us in Battersea we have pubs serving restaurant quality food, a theatre, pub quizzes, coffee, sports on TV. So much that people can enjoy. I hate seeing a pub turned in to yet more flats or a depressing Tesco Metro. I hope more councils will consider this too.
Karen Hatch

4 April 2017

This is excellent news, pubs are an important architectural, cultural and community resource and should be protected before they are all lost to development for absentee investors. The British pub is an important national institution. They often have additional space that could be used for revenue or development should the owners need extra revenue.
Wendy Robins

24 March 2017

So what has happened to the pub in Battersea High Street - which past and present MPs made a point of saying - well one had a wedding reception there - the other a frequent visitor. Still hasn't reopened after being turned into unaffordable housing.
Liz D

24 March 2017