South East Essex

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Pubs planning

Friday 24 June 2022

This memo reports the results of the monitoring exercise carried out in April.

Background: Branches were asked to monitor pub-related planning applications submitted in their branch areas during April. Specifically, they were asked to record the numbers of applications for change of use or demolitions of pubs. I’m very grateful to the Branches who took part in the exercise. This followed on from similar surveys in April and September last year.

Results: The exercise produced analyses of applications made to 84 local planning authorities – 21.5% of the total number of LPAs, so a reasonably good representative sample. Branches reported 5 applications for change of use and 3 for demolition. If these figures are extrapolated to cover all 374 LPAs then we would have a national total of 37 applications i.e. 9.4 per week. Some, perhaps even a majority, of these applications will not have been approved so the actual rate of losses will have been quite small and actually lower than pre-pandemic figures. The applications per week numbers for last April and September were 13.2 and 11.5 respectively so the trend is, perhaps surprisingly, downwards. Commentary: It’s too early to draw any firm conclusions. The licensed trade remains in a precarious position – customer numbers have still not fully recovered for many pubs and cost of living pressures means less disposable income for many people. Other pressures are also hitting pubs – hugely increased energy prices, escalating wholesale food and drink costs, and staff shortages. We already hear reports of pub businesses going under and it would be surprising if others did not follow suit. What impact this might have on permanent closure rates remains to be seen.