Get More From Your Local

24th October 2012

Many of you will have noticed a significant increase in the number of pubs appearing on the market in recent years and months and will have been struck by the low prices that many properties are advertised at. A recent article in the Daily Telegraph provided some interesting statistics in this regard; up to a dozen British pubs close every week and pub prices have fallen 30% – 40% since the 2007 peak.

Many local planning authorities and indeed local residents groups strongly resist the loss of a village pub to other uses. Therefore planning applications for change of use or demolition can be contentious and are frequently not successful. There was a trend in the early 2000’s for house builders to buy pub sites with a view to the demolition of the pub and building housing on the site. Other developers sought a straight change of use from pub to residential with the intention of converting a pub to a large family home or splitting it into flats. There has been a move away from both approaches in recent times due to local and council opposition. Issues raised include the loss of a community facility and job losses.

There are however other means by which a discerning investor can extract value from a pub. The planning system allows for the change of use from pub (Use Class A4) to a whole host of uses generally without the need for planning permission. The uses are:

  • shops or Use Class A1 (including retail warehouses, post offices, ticket and travel agencies, sale of cold food for consumption off the premises, hairdressers, funeral directors, hire shops, dry cleaners and internet cafes);
  • financial and professional services or Use Class A2 which includes the following uses- banks, building societies, estate and employment agencies, professional services (but not health or medical services) and betting offices; and
  • food and drink (Use Class A3)- restaurants and cafes.

If it is intended to pursue this route some words of caution: although planning consent may not be required for the change of use, it could be required for external works which are judged to materially alter the external appearance of the building. For example if it was proposed to convert a pub to a restaurant, planning permission could be required for external venting/flues and signage. In addition, if the proposals involve a listed building, consent could be required for any works to the building including internal works. It is always advisable however to check with the Planning Department of the relevant Local Authority prior to carrying out works or indeed a change of use to any building in order to avoid any potential issues at a later stage.

For further information please contact Killian Gallagher on 01430 876010.

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