St Albans MP Anne Main has supported a new clause introduced by the Government to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill which introduces provisions for protecting local pubs.
‘I think this is a wonderful solution that will protect areas like mine’, Anne said in a Commons debate on Tuesday. ‘[St Albans] is an historic pilgrimage city; we have pubs just about on every corner.’
‘Anything that can make our pubs more viable, which give a sounder footing for the future, I would welcome enormously.’
The new clause removes permitted development rights, which will ensure that pubs cannot be converted into any other use or demolished without an application for full planning permission being made.
‘Pubs are so much more than a particular place to buy a beer’, Anne said, ‘People come to my constituency and say that they can’t get over what a marvellous impression the pubs give.’
‘In St Albans, the headquarters of CAMRA is in Hatfield Road. CAMRA has been wonderful in this and I pay tribute to them and all the people who have worked with them to ensure that the minister has listened’.
The new clause also introduces a new mixed A3/A4 use class, which allows pubs to expand their food offering without requiring planning permission. Anne mentioned a number of pubs in her constituency, such as The Boot, The Fighting Cock, and The White Heart, which would benefit from the new Government clause.
Anne also highlighted the issue of disappearing office space in St Albans: ‘I do not want to have a city that is devoid of that vibrancy; devoid of businesses or devoid of office space’, she said.
In his response, the minister paid tribute to the part that Anne has played in this process, and in previously lobbying for measures in the Budget to protect historic local pubs.
He clarified that St Albans council would be free now to look at an Article 4 direction for a specific area of the city if there was a particular area where there was a problem. Only local authorities that deliver the housing that their communities need may be entitled to pursue Article 4 direction over the whole of a local authority area. ‘We need to ensure that St Albans gets as quickly as possible an up-to-date local plan in place that provides for the housing that is so desperately needed’, he said.