The Government has called on communities across the UK to list their local pubs as Assets of Community Value (ACV), after a south east London pub has become the first to be saved by its locals.
Thanks to the 2011 Localism Act, listing a pub as an ACV with the local council means a pub can’t be sold on without the community being told and gives the council greater ability to refuse planning applications from developers.
It even gives the local community up to six months to put in a bid to buy the pub, should it be put up for sale – the “Community Right to Bid”.
It was under this scheme that locals of the Ivy House pub in Nunhead, south east London, were able to purchase the £810,000 freehold, after securing a loan from the Architectural Heritage Fund and a grant from the Social Investment Business Group.
The Grade II-listed pub was destined to be turned into flats. But last September, after the Localism Act came into force, the campaign group Ivy House Community Pub Ltd lobbied Southwark council to help save the much-loved venue.
On March 15, the council approved the application and the campaign group was able to make the purchase.
The Ivy House is now within touching distance of opening its doors and making history as London’s first community pub, owned and run by shareholders.
The pub – which has played host to musicians including Ian Drury, Elvis Costello and Dr Feelgood – is asking for the community’s final help to reopen the pub by buying shares in a community shares scheme.
Brandon Lewis, minister for Communities and Local Government said: “Community Pubs Month is off to a Stella start. Our Community Right to Bid has saved its first ever pub – the Ivy House – great news for punters in Nunhead and it comes hot on the heels of the Government taking a penny off a pint and calling time on that unpopular beer tax.
“We are determined to see more communities across the country follow in the Ivy House’s footsteps so we are working with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to encourage people to list their local as a way to safeguard the future of their favourite pub using their new community right. We’ve also extended the tax breaks for small firms like community pubs for another tax year.”
With high property prices meaning pubs are being targeted for conversion into supermarkets, fast food outlets, and housing developments, CAMRA has launched a major campaign to encourage more communities to list their local pub as a community asset.
The “List Your Local” campaign – launched as part of CAMRA’s Community Pubs Month running throughout April – aims to get 300 UK pubs listed as Assets of Community Value in 2013.
Mike Benner, CAMRA’s chief executive, said: “Three quarters of pub-goers believe that a well-run community pub is as important to community life as a post office, local shop or community centre. As such, CAMRA is delighted that the Government has recognised this and empowered communities to protect their pubs.
“By listing their local, communities are ensuring that if the pub is under threat in the future, there is a much-needed extra layer of protection which “stops the clock”, should it be put up for sale.
“With 18 pubs closing every week and pubs increasingly a target for developers, this new power is a massive step forward in the battle to protect valued pubs.”
Ivy House Community Pub Ltd said: “We’re extremely pleased to have come this far and bought the pub.
“We want to put the Ivy House back at the very heart of its community. This represents a fantastic chance for us locals to stake a claim in the character and development of our neighbourhood and help make it a more vibrant place to live.”