A CAMPAIGN to give locals a say on the future of a York pub has taken a significant step forward.

Regulars at The Punch Bowl in The Groves took action after they found out the pub could have been turned into a mini-supermarket without planning permission, under a legal loophole.

A 1,200-signature petition and support from York’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), branch, asked City of York Council to recommend an Article 4 Direction for the venue - which would force the supermarket chain to apply for planning permission and give the community a chance to register their objections or support for the development.

Council officers had recommended the Article 4 Direction be refused, but at a public meeting at West Offices on Monday, Councillor David Levene and council leader Dafydd Williams agreed the development should go to a full planning application.

Councillor Williams said he had been “inundated” with messages from people opposed to the development, and the council was determined to make “a brave decision”.

He said: “I think there are sufficient concerns that it may affect local amenity, and enough grounds for doubt that I would rather have it tested through planning consent.”

Nick Love, from CAMRA, said: “It’s fantastic news and an example of campaigners residents and councillors all working together for the good of York pubs. From a CAMRA point of view, we’re utterly delighted.

“The whole community came out against this, not just licensees and real ale groups, this is us working with them because there has been a massive upsurge of opinion against Tesco and keeping the pub as a community asset. 1,200 people said no, not on our patch, we use it for meetings, raising money, and mental health rehabilitation and we don’t want Tesco because we’re will served by local retailers.”

Paul Crossman, landlord of The Swan, said: “It means there will be a planning application and that’s all it means, but it gives the opportunity for consultation for the community and that’s what we want.”

The Press launched its Be Vocal For Your Local campaign earlier this year, calling for a change in the law to give York residents a say on the future of York pubs.

Legal loopholes currently mean pubs can be converted for various other uses, including shops, without the need for a planning application that local people can comment on.

We teamed up with York Camra to lobby for the Government to change the law, and for City of York Council to place blanket Article 4 protection on all pubs until that happened. The council this month passed a motion supporting such protection.

As well as The Punch Bowl, The Corner House in Burton Stone Lane also closed last month and is to become a Tesco, and developers are planning to convert The Saddle in Fulford.

Camra says 31 pubs a week arfe closing and says many are being turned into shops.