Two recent case studies
CAMRA has made no secret of its desire to have 3,000 pubs listed as assets of community value. When Riverview retail announced its acquisition of over 200 pubs from Punch, a number of local campaign groups expressed dismay at the potential loss of their beloved local. This was despite the fact that the company’s business model revolves around adding new income streams to existing ones.
Not surprisingly, given CAMRA’s stated intention, we are already opposing an influx of nominations for various pub companies, brewers and developers alike. A number of nominations and reviews are pending decision – including a substantial number of CAMRA nominations – but two recent cases where nominations were rejected throw light on how these can be opposed.
Case Study: CAMRA nomination of a family brewer’s pub
In this case one of the few remaining pubs in a village in East Anglia was nominated by a CAMRA branch which identified itself on the nomination form as a company limited by guarantee (i.e. Campaign for Real Ale Limited). The pub is a real drinker’s pub, with darts and pool and sporting events shown on TV. Whilst at the hub of the local community, it provides nothing demonstrable in terms of community events.
We took issue with the eligibility of the CAMRA branch / company to make the nomination, as well as the merits and demerits of the nomination by reference to other local pubs and community facilities available.
On the eligibility point, we second guessed that the Council / CAMRA would make reference to the recent case of St Gabriel Properties Ltd v London Borough of Lewisham & Anor. We made detailed submissions as to the correctness of the Judge’s decision in that case, and the extent to which the Council ought to have regard to a non-binding First Tier Tribunal case.
The Council took internal legal advice and decided that although the St Gabriel decision to treat CAMRA and its local branches in a hybrid way appeared to apply to this nomination, it was not certain that this can be treated as case law and it may be possible that this decision could yet be overturned in the Upper Tier Tribunal.
Case Study: Parish council nomination of a busy town centre pub
In March 2015 a parish council nominated a food led, award winning pub in a town. The time for the council to make a decision expired without it making one.
When we were instructed, we took the position that any decision made out of time was void, and argued with the unsupported allegations of community use (eg unspecified meetings of local community groups) made by the Parish Council. We also made detailed representations as to why the council should reject the allegations, as to how certain matters alleged in support were irrelevant to the test to be satisfied (since the provision of unused facilities does not in itself satisfy the community value test), and we instead asked the council to draw adverse inferences from the lack of evidence presented in support of the nomination.
In a detailed decision the council recognised that the pub was well used by the local community and served as a meeting place for locals and regulars. However the council found that the use of the property by the local community could not be said to further its social interests and well being, because there was insufficient evidence of this, and the reasons put forward did not satisfy the community value test.
Building a bank of evidence
We have a growing bank of success stories in opposing ACVs, including cases which may have appeared to be lost causes. This means that we have access to council decisions which throw light on the way they think and the circumstances in which they will reject nominations. We have effectively challenged the perception that councils will list pubs as ACVs for a quiet life, by giving them the ammunition they need to say “no”.
To continue to build a full picture of nominations and attitudes towards them, we are interested in hearing from you if you have a pub which has recently been nominated, particularly if the nomination was made by CAMRA.
0345 271 6764
To read more on this topic, see our commentaries:
Assets of Community Value: the view of Councils
Addressing the issue of abusive or tactical nominations when it comes to assets of community value. The Localism Act 2011, which introduced the concept of ACVs and the nature of nominations, gave rise to unintended consequences which are highlighted in this commentary on how councils are reacting to potential listings.
Assets of Community Value: maintaining the value of your asset
An introduction to ACVs and the steps to take when faced with one of your assets being nominated.