Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan

Khan vows to protect London’s pubs

New measures to halt the number of pubs closing their doors across the capital have been set out by the Mayor in his draft London Plan.

London has lost an average of 81 of its pubs a year since 2001 - and the Mayor of London is vowing to protect them.

The draft London Plan will push local authorities to recognise the heritage, economic, social and cultural value of pubs and ensure they are protected for local communities.

It will also ask boroughs to back proposals for new pubs to be built in appropriate locations, to stimulate town centre regeneration.

Khan will introduce the Agent of Change principle in his draft London Plan. This means that developers building new residential properties near pubs will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound from nearby pubs, clubs and live music venues, instead of the crippling cost falling on the pubs and clubs.

Boroughs will have to refuse proposals from developers that have not clearly demonstrated how they will manage this noise impact.

The Mayor will also lay down plans urging boroughs to resist applications to redevelop areas directly connected to public houses – such as beer gardens, function rooms or landlord accommodation – so that they retain their appeal to local people and visitors and remain viable businesses.

Khan’s plans to protect London’s pubs follow shocking figures released earlier this year - which showed 1,220 pubs have been lost in the capital since 20012. In 2001, there were 4,835 pubs in London. By 2016, the total had fallen by 25% to 3,615 – an average loss of 81 pubs per year.

Two London boroughs reported a loss of more than half of their pubs – Barking and Dagenham (a loss of 56%) and Newham (52%). Other badly-affected boroughs include Croydon (45%), Waltham Forest (44%), Hounslow (42%) and Lewisham (41%).

The decline of the number of pubs in the capital suggest they are coming under increasing threat over a range of issues, including development, rises in rents and business rates and conflicts with residents.

The Mayor’s draft London Plan gives unprecedented directions to safeguard London’s locals and allow boroughs to refuse and resist developments that threaten further closures.

Khan said: “Pubs across the capital are often at the heart of our communities or of historic value and should be protected by local authorities in order to protect the capital’s unique character.

“From historic watering holes to new pop-up breweries, nothing defines the diverse and historic character of the capital better than the Great British Pub.

“That’s why I’ve set out measures in my draft London Plan to protect pubs against redevelopment, ensure they can co-exist peacefully with nearby residential properties and ensure that councils across the capital recognise their importance to the city’s cultural fabric.”

A recent survey of international visitors to London revealed 54% visited a pub during their stay in the capital, underlining their great cultural importance to the city and their deep connection with English culture.

As well as being intrinsic to London’s culture, public houses are also a vital to the capital’s young workforce, providing the first taste of work for many young people, generating one in six of all news jobs among 18-24 year olds.

Earlier this year, Khan committed to working together with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to undertake an annual audit of public houses in the capital, so that the number of pubs in the capital can be tracked more closely, and efforts can be made to stem the flow of closures in the city.

He appointed London’s first-ever Night Czar, Amy Lamé, to champion the capital’s night-time economy and to take action to protect pubs, night clubs, grassroots music venues and LGBT+ spaces in the city.

Earlier this month, Lamé published guidance for councils on how they can use the current London Plan to safeguard pubs and other night-time venues.

Lamé said: “I fell in love with London’s pub culture when I moved to the capital over 20 years ago. Having campaigned for years to save the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, I understand the pivotal role pubs play in community life and how passionately Londoners feel about their local.

“I’m delighted that the Mayor has unveiled these important policies in his draft London Plan today. This, alongside his commitment to an annual audit of public houses in the capital, will be invaluable in our fight to protect pubs across the city.”

Chair of CAMRA’s North London branch, John Cryne, said: “CAMRA fully welcomes the Mayor’s initiative and we are pleased to get to a stage where pubs are valued in such an important planning policy. I just hope that local London boroughs take note and act accordingly to preserve what is left of London’s valuable public houses.”