THE Press today launches a campaign to give York residents a fair say on the future of the city's pubs.

Our Be Vocal For Your Local appeal calls on City of York Council and the Government to give residents a voice on under-threat premises by adapting planning laws.

At the moment, companies hoping to take over pubs and turn them into convenience stores, bookmakers or estate agents do not have to apply for planning permission.

This campaign hopes to change that - locally and nationally - to give communities the chance to fight against the changes they are currently unable to stop.

York Press:

We call on the Government to close a planning loophole that means pubs UK-wide can be converted without planning permission.

And until that happens, we call on City of York Council to place legal protection on all of its pubs, to counter the loophole and force free debate on every proposed conversion.

We do not argue that all pubs should be saved. But we do argue that local residents should be given a democratic say.

At the moment, three of York's pubs are under threat from being turned into convenience stores.

York Press:

The Corner House pub in Clifton is one of those being converted without consultation


The Saddle Inn, in Fulford Main Street looks set to become a Co-operative store. The Corner House in Burton Stone Lane will close next week to become a Tesco. And Tesco is also reportedly eyeing The Punch Bowl at the top of The Groves.

Thousands of people have already signed a petition to keep The Punch Bowl open, while the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is working with pub regulars to secure an "Article 4 direction", which would force Tesco to apply for planning permission if it wanted to proceed with its plans.

Last month, Wandsworth Council became the first authority to approve a new pub protection policy that will see a blanket Article 4 (A4) direction issued across the borough. This would mean any change of use or development would need the council's approval. We call on York to follow suit, by including pub protection in its planning policies.

We want to know what you think about the issue. Email your thoughts to


Pubs have a vital role to play in community life

PASSIONATE campaigners striving to stop pints and beer mats being replaced with bargain bins and checkouts have laid out their reasons for keeping pubs in the community.

Paul Crossman – licensee of York pubs The Swan, The Slip Inn, The Volunteer Arms and The Woolpack – and Nick Love, of York’s Campaign for Real Ale branch, are backing Be Vocal For Your Local to stop watering holes being converted or demolished without companies facing any challenges.

York Press: Landlord Paul Crossman inside The Swan, Clementhorpe, which has been made a Grade II listed building

Paul Crossman in The Swan, one of his pubs

Mr Crossman said: “Most people would say they would love a decent local on their corner again.

“Companies have realised pubs have been run into the ground but they are still buildings at the centre of the community and are beautifully positioned and sustainable for alternative use.

“What we are proposing is to make the council’s lives easier because if they incorporate this into their local plan it’s something which will help them.

“If the local population tell people at Tesco they don’t want it, it will take someone with a brass neck to drive it through.”

Mr Love added: “Shops are only turned into pubs if they fail but pubs are turned into shops when they are doing well.

“If we don’t make a stand then what we are saying is York is ripe for the picking, that the council is weak and that they are not pro-pub – but there are a lot of people that want to be strong about this.

“What we are arguing is not that pubs should never be turned into shops, but they should be going through planning to do that and giving the local community the option to put forward arguments for and against.”


Mr Love is currently heavily involved in trying to secure an Article 4 Direction for The Punch Bowl to stop it being converted into a Tesco.

Around 1,200 people were outraged enough to sign a petition trying to stop the move because they see it as somewhere very close to their hearts.

“I’ve been meeting with York St John University’s football club because they have nowhere else to go for a meeting other than The Punch Bowl,” added Mr Love.

“I know five widowers in there that would have nowhere else to go.

“There’s another man that gets the bus in from Strensall because he has friends there and is on his own after his wife died.

“It has so much more value than a drinking den.”

Fears also exist over the impact a supermarket would have on the business of the wider community because of the competition they bring to independent high street shops.

Mr Crossman added: “I care about local pubs but I also care about local businesses and if they are turned into shops they are well placed to wipe out the competition because of their locations.

Mr Love added: “There are sandwich shops that have told me they would immediately go to the wall if Tesco opened up because of their cheap deals.

“An Indian restaurant has also said they will lose out because people get hungry and go for a takeaway after a drink.”


Planning rules permit changes

Mike Slater, assistant director for Development Services, Planning and Regeneration, at City of York Council, said: “The possible change of use of public houses to retail is permitted by national planning legislation and is a national issue.

“It’s important to note that Article 4 Directions to remove this right and require a planning application to be submitted for the change are not a routine request. National guidance states that they should only be made in exceptional circumstances, and so a proposal to remove this right needs to be carefully considered.

“Following the cabinet on October 7, the council is considering whether such an Article 4 Direction would be appropriate for the Punch Bowl public house in York. If an ‘immediate’ Article 4 Direction is granted and any application for planning permission is subsequently refused, or granted subject to restrictive conditions, compensation could be claimed and this would be payable by the council.”