Council could take steps to protect rural pubs in Cambridgeshire from closure, conversion or demolition

Pensioners in Royston are being encouraged to get active this Sunday.

Pensioners in Royston are being encouraged to get active this Sunday. - Credit: Archant

A council could step in to protect rural pubs threatened with closure, conversion or demolition.

South Cambridgeshire district council is consulting with communities on the possibility of using an Article 4 Direction – a planning power which could mean pubs would no longer be able to be converted or demolished without the need to submit a new planning application.

Under current planning legislation a pub can be lawfully converted to a shop without further planning permission. The change can be made under what is known as permitted development rights.

Councillor Nick Wright, the council’s portfolio holder for economic development, said: “We all know how hard it has been for the pub industry, but equally there is also recognition the vital role village pubs play at the heart of communities. I’m really pleased we are going to be able to be able to let people have their say on the issue and I hope we will be able to stop pubs using the freedoms allowed in national planning rules to convert, and even knock down pubs, without any consultation with local people.”

The consultation will consider whether a blanket Article 4 Direction should be implemented to stop any pub being demolished without consent, but it will also ask which pubs or communities in particular want to see pubs given extra protection from a change of use.

Several pubs in Crow country have been threatened with closure in recent months, including the Plough at Shepreth, which has now re-opened.

Plans for the consultation are currently being draw up by the council’s officers.