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City council could change planning rules to save pubs

June 13, 2012 11:46 AM

Cambridge planning rules could be changed in a bid to save the city's pubs from closure.

Residents are to be asked for their views on the idea which would make it more difficult for developers to close viable pubs to use the land for housing or similar projects.

In recent years, Cambridge has lost 20 pubs with some converting to restaurants while others have been demolished to make way for new homes.

There are still 86 pubs trading in the city or under refurbishment, but with land at a premium there are fears that more could be lost.

Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Planning, Tim Ward said: "Our pubs play a vital role in community life but sadly, over the years we have lost so many.

"We know that if we don't act now to try to stem the tide of closures, we will see more being demolished to make way for housing or converted for alternative uses.

"We want residents to let us know what they think and that is why we are launching this consultation to find out whether people believe we should tighten the planning rules to protect our pubs."

The city council has drawn up proposed planning rules to make it more difficult to close pubs that are viable and for which there are no nearby alternatives.

The move is supported by the new National Planning Policy Framework which encourages council to consider protecting pubs.

Cambridge City Council's consultation will begin on Friday 15 June and will run alongside the consultation on the Issues and Options stage of the Local Plan review.

Any new planning rules would come into force in the autumn following processing of the consultation responses and any resulting adjustments to the proposed new policies.

Figures compiled by the city council, show Cambridge has one pub per 824 working adults, higher than other historic university locations such as Norwich, York and Bath.

But pubs are facing national pressures such as increasing duty rises on alcohol and competition from supermarkets which make it more and more difficult for them to survive.

Even when a pub is profitable, the demand for more housing means that the land could be redeveloped making more money than if the pub were retained.

The draft policy to be consulted on will be published on the city council's website on Friday (June 15).