News 

Closing time for ACVs?

30 May 2022

The British Beer and Pub Association estimated that the industry lost over £100m each month of lockdown and even the most eternal hop-timist would concede that the rate of pub closures is almost certain to increase.

Will Rogers Senior Planner Harrogate

We are fortunate in North Yorkshire to be able to while away the hours in any one of our wonderful pubs. There are many watering holes where one can curl up in a warm corner with a perfect pint and a copy of the NPPF to read (again).

Coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on drinking in Britain – never mind the beer and sandwiches at Number 10! The British Beer and Pub Association estimated that the industry lost over £100m each month of lockdown and even the most eternal hop-timist would concede that the rate of pub closures is almost certain to increase.

The Localism Act 2011 was the first piece of legislation to enable communities to ask their Local Authority to create a list of local facilities that are valuable to the community, such as green space, buildings and pubs. Known as Assets of Community Value (ACV), if the Local Authority agrees to list the facility, and it comes up for sale, a right is granted to the community to bid and buy the asset.

On paper this gives communities an increased chance to save much loved shops, pubs, or other local facilities. Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City’s stadiums are both listed as ACVs and there are whispers that Chelsea is headed that way given Abramovich’s frozen assets.  

In order to stop drunken bidding, there is a six-month period triggered by the community’s expression of interest in purchasing the property, if no offer is made within this 6 month period and it appears to have been effectively used to delay any potential sale, the owner of the land can claim compensation for loss or expense incurred during this time, such as holding costs or increased professional costs.

The success of ACVs concerning pubs has hit the local media again. Plans have been submitted to Ashfield District Council to turn a pub in Hucknall into three flats - the pub has closed down several times over the last five to 10 years and the last time it operated as a pub was in December 2020.

Last December, the pub was up for sale again and a special ACV order from Ashfield District Council attached to it meant the local community had a chance to be the new owners and open it up again. But no buyers ultimately came forward and the landlord has decided to covert the whole building into flats.

Removing my beer goggles for a second, communities will, on the whole, struggle to raise the sufficient funds to purchase a listed asset, let alone carry out any much-needed repairs or pay stamp duty. ACVs can mean the use is in the last chance saloon and whilst Planning Potential condones responsible drinking, it’s time to hit your local pub or it may quite literally be last orders.

Disclaimer - In the days before Thatcherism, union bosses would routinely pop round to Number 10 for "beer and sandwiches" - usually a euphemism for hard-ball policy discussions.