Steve O’Connell, author of report urging protection for pubs, calls for market testing of empty pub sites

The “important role” of London’s pubs has been recognised for the first time in the Mayor’s new draft London Plan, and the Capital’s boroughs are encouraged to “maintain, manage and enhance” them. The plan also supports councils in preventing the loss of pubs, if it can be demonstrated that they are “community assets”.

These new guidelines follow the publication of ‘Keeping Local’, a recent report which urged improved protection for pubs when it comes to demolishing or changing the use of them.

Report author and GLA Conservatives planning spokesman, Steve O‘Connell said:

“The fact that pubs are mentioned for the first time in the London Plan is an important milestone, following my recent report, ‘Keeping Local’. I welcome the Mayor’s commitment to help boroughs protect valued pubs from being lost, where it is possible to do so. Now we must strengthen this protection further.

“I would especially like to see a requirement for robust market testing for empty pub sites before any redevelopment can be considered. This means a potential developer would have to prove that they’ve marketed the site to prospective landlords for a reasonable amount of time, before planning permission can be considered for a new development such as housing. I would also like to see other strict criteria such as the need to demonstrate the pub has been vacant for at least two years, ensuring the character of the street scene is not detrimentally affected, and ensuring significant features of historic value are retained. I will be writing to the Mayor with my proposals.”

Rodger Molyneux, Director of The Hope in Carshalton, said:

“The local pub is a vital part of the community, even for people that don’t use it. It is a place where people can congregate safely, and can help rid our streets of anti-social drinking and drunken violence in public places. Pubs need all the protection they can get, and therefore it is great to see things progressing. Whilst the existence of pubs, for the very first time, in the Mayor’s planning guidelines is an important step, local authorities must turn this into action and do everything they can to save this great British institution.

Steve’s report “Keeping Local: How to save London’s pubs as community resources” is specifically mentioned in the London Plan. The report can be accessed at: