Fuller Long have obtained planning permission on behalf of a client for the change of use of a former run down public house in Chesham. The application followed a previous refusal of planning permission prior to Fuller Long’s involvement. Our consultants were able to provide professional support to help overcome the previous concerns of the Council, thus allowing the client to transform the premises into a functional usable space.

As part of the application, Fuller Long submitted a Planning Statement in support of the change of use to provide a mixed use property, comprising a car sales (sui generis) and residential unit (Use Class C3). Our statement assessed the ‘loss of the commercial unit’ as well as matters related to drainage, parking, heritage and highway safety.

Fuller Long made the case that the site was entirely appropriate for the proposed use, given its location on the edge of the town centre. Furthermore,  highlighting that the development followed the sustainability objectives of Government Guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). In this regard the NPPF encourages the effective use of land that has been previously developed. Core planning principles also aim to significantly boost the supply of housing and to meet the needs of different groups in the community.

With regard to Heritage, the site was situated in close proximity to two listed buildings and the Council’s heritage officer raised concerns regarding the impact on the change of use on the setting of these protected buildings. Fuller Long argued that the development would result in improvements to the character and appearance of the site through the rebuilding of the front boundary wall and resurfacing of the forecourt.

Fuller Long was successful in gaining planning permission on behalf of our client and improvements have now taken place to bring back an under utilised building.

The Change of Use Trend

Change of use or conversions for Public Houses have seen an increase in popularity over the years. Various former pubs across the UK have seen an array of different uses, subsequently breathing new life into the property. The Railway Tavern in Cambourne, set to be transformed into a Residential property, The Riddell Arms in Nottingham, set to become a Daycare Nursery, and O’Neill’s in Muswell Hill, converted into a steakhouse, are just a few examples of a trend that is seeing a brand new use for previous pubs that have closed for various reasons. It’s widely accepted that changes in the way people socialise, education and awareness of the health impacts of alcohol and drink driving legislation have all contributed in someway to the number of closed public houses.   

However, this trend has led to a change to Permitted Development Rights. In May 2017 the former Government removed the Permitted Development Rights which allowed public houses to change use or to be demolished. Under the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (SI 764) public houses fell into use class A4 – drinking establishments. Previously, planning permission was not required for a change of use from class A4 to certain other uses, provided that the pub was not listed as an asset of community value. Section 15 of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 required the Secretary of State, “as soon as reasonably practicable after the coming into force of this section” to remove the existing permitted development rights which allow drinking establishments, including public houses, to change use or to be demolished. This has been completed and came into force on the 23 May 2017 through the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2017.

This change to Permitted Development Rights is indicative of the concerns many locals feel over the loss of pubs and other community facilities in their areas. Campaigns have sparked over the protection of pubs in Stocking Pelham, and the Campaign for Real Ale amongst others. According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Since 2001, London has lost a total of 25 percent of its pubs. The boroughs of Newham and Barking & Dagenham alone have seen over half of their taverns disappear. CAMRA figures suggest that the total number of pubs in the capital has gone from nearly 5,000 to just over 3,600 in the last 15 years – an average loss of 81 pubs each year.

Given the high profile nature of these cases, it is recommended private planning advice is taken  when considering the conversion of a public house. Fuller Long have experience in such matters and would be delighted to assist. To discuss a planning issue in regards to change of use with one of our experienced team of consultants, please call us on 0808 164 1288 for a no obligation conversation or email us at hello@fullerlong.com