Following CAMRA’s launch of an initiative this week, calling upon its members to nominate their local pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), you may have concerns about the future of your pub estate. Because an ACV automatically receives planning protection, the option to convert, demolish or sell a pub for development could be lost.
So where the development value attached to a pub requires protecting, or lies in the pub’s potential future demolition or change of use, it is even more important than before to either respond properly to a nomination to list a pub as an ACV, or to pursue a review.
Our experience of effective opposition
This year alone we have already defeated a number of ACV nominations with written comments at the nomination stage (our success rate at this stage this year is 60%). Although each nomination must be responded to on its merits or demerits, and these are likely to be numerous, a pattern has emerged which indicates how ACV nominations can be analysed and effectively resisted.
- Know your nominator
Only parish councils and unincorporated bodies can make a “community nomination”. If the parish council has not resolved to make the nomination at the request of community members, then is it a community nomination at all? If a group has made the nomination then its constitution needs checking to see whether or not its membership has adopted it, and evidence of the membership consenting to be bound by the constitution also requires checking. If the body is an unincorporated assosication, then its constitution must also satisfy the legal requirements of an unincorporated association.
- Are the tests satisfied on the evidence?
We have seen a lot of nominations, and found that:
- Sometimes the nomination is inappropriate. For example we recently resisted a nomination for a property (formerly a pub) which was a trading destination restaurant with small bar used occasionally by some locals. The nomination was rejected.
- Often there is land associated with the pub, or the upper parts, which have not been used in connection with the pub and should not be part of the nomination in the first place.
- The evidence presented to say that it has been of social use, and may be used as such in the future, is usually weak, unfocussed and/or badly presented. Where this is the case not only can the evidence be attacked for its vagueness, but opposing emphasis can also be placed on alternative community facilities available in the locality.
- Play all your cards at the nomination stage
Don’t hold back with the Council. It might not want the property to be listed if you put them on notice of the fact that the ACV listing will damage the value of the property proposed to be included. When the ACV legislation was first introduced a central pot was created for local authorities to dip into for compensation claims. However it is not clear where the funding will come from.
Only one bite at the cherry
The issues with the ACV system are numerous, including:
- It presents a low threshold for government backed interference with private property rights.
- If unchecked then Councils tend to rubber stamp the nominations.
- The planning impact on value is becoming increasingly significant.
- The purpose of listing, to enable community bodies to bid and acquire the ACV, is not being achieved. Less than 10% of community bids have been successful.
Whilst the ACV legislation remains a feature of the pub industry, with over 600 pubs listed as ACVs, it is now more important than ever that every opportunity is taken to ensure that property owners are not being inappropriately prejudiced by a listing, and that inappropriate nominations are either being effectively opposed in the first instance, or effectively reviewed.
0345 271 6764
We have been involved in two recent cases were the nominations of pubs as ACVs have been successfully challenged – read more here.