The Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 received Royal Assent last week and in it are the much-publicised provisions relating to the protection of pubs. Those who followed the Bill's passage through Parliament will be aware that the focus of these provisions changed slightly along the way.

As explained in our earlier blog post the Bill originally aimed to take pubs out of the use classes order, meaning that any change of use would require planning permission.

The final provisions do not go quite that far. 'Drinking establishments' will retain their classification as an A4 use but regulations must be passed to:

  • remove the existing permitted development rights which allow changes of use from drinking establishments to other uses; and
  • remove the existing permitted development rights which allow for the demolition of a building used or last used as a drinking establishment (in whole or in part)

Those regulations must also bring in new permitted development rights allowing changes of use from drinking establishment to mixed drinking establishments and restaurants. This will allow pubs to extend their food offering (unless there is an article 4 direction or planning condition in place which prevents this) but any other change of use will now require planning consent, regardless of any Assets of Community Value (ACV) designation.

Those regulations must be made as soon as reasonably practicable. We are expecting them by July.

Whilst the provisions have changed slightly, this is a big win for those who are seeking to protect pubs.