Local pubs will be helped to be saved thanks to a Kirklees Council initiative.
The radical move which is called the ‘Sustainable Communities Act’ has been welcomed by a coalition of more than 100 national organisations.
The act allows councils and local people to request that government take action to help protect local services such as pubs.
The council has pledged to use the act to ask that government amend planning regulations so permission and community consultation is needed before community pubs are allowed to be converted or knocked down.
At the moment, pubs can be converted to supermarkets, betting shops or other uses – or even knocked down – without the new owners having to apply for planning permission. This means local people are denied a say as to whether a popular community pub should be changed to another use.
Under the Sustainable Communities Act, the government must ‘reach agreement’ with an independent panel over proposals submitted by councils, meaning it cannot simply reject ideas that come forward.
Kirklees Council leader, Coun Mehboob Khan, said: “The demolition or change of use of public houses can seriously affect the local community as they serve as a focus for many social activities.
“I am happy to support the request to change the legislation so that planning permission has to be sought first therefore giving local people a voice in what happens to these community facilities.”
The group that more than 100 national organisations falls under, ‘Local Works’ national co-ordinator, Steve Shaw, said: “Hundreds of local community pubs around the country have been demolished or converted to another use without the council or local people having their say.
“We congratulate Kirklees Council for leading the way by pledging to use the Sustainable Communities Act to change this situation so that valued community pubs can be protected.”