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New Clause 14 — Expenditure of Greater London Authority on housing or regeneration

Part of Infrastructure Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 26th January 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Williams Stephen Williams The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 6:30 pm, 26th January 2015

Precisely for the reasons just outlined in an intervention from Andrew Griffiths, who has a very good record of campaigning in this area. A blanket protection for every single public house in the country, which is what the new clause envisages, would protect pubs that for various reasons are no longer enjoying the patronage of the community. In my constituency, lots of pubs have closed, but it is usually because of demographic change. Some parts of my constituency, which had a “white working-class community” 20 or 30 years ago, are now populated primarily by recently arrived Somalis and other people. Obviously the pubs in those areas have closed, and some have been converted to other uses, but some of them are still derelict. Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that in all those circumstances, whatever they might be, full planning permission should be required simply to change the use of a former pub to something that may be of benefit to the community?

The Government are proposing to look at the public houses that are genuinely popular and valued by the community now, giving them the protection that is already allowed under the Localism Act, and further enhancing that protection under the planning laws, saying, “You cannot convert this pub into another use or demolish it without planning permission.” That should address all the worries that people rightly have about the pubs that really are important to them.