Freedom of information response

Planning enquiry

Publication date: 
Thursday 10 September 2020
Request: 

Can you please confirm if your department currently has a written viability checklist or test, to use when pub companies request change of use through lack of viability on a public house, in order to validate or reject their claim of lack of viability.

If you do use a check list or test can you, please tell me if it is an internal document or if it was obtained from another source and if it was where it came from.

Response: 

As part of the Council’s Local Development Framework adopted Core Strategy (2015) Policy CSTP10 (Community Facilities), seeks to ‘provide and maintain existing provision for community facilities to contribute towards meeting the varied needs of local people’. This Policy has been accepted at planning appeals as being relevant to public houses.  Where there is a proposed loss of such a community facility, including a public house, the Local Planning Authority must consider whether there is a real demand for the community facility and, if not, whether the proposed development is appropriate in the context of the Council’s Development Plan. The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence to demonstrate the demand, or lack thereof for the site to be retained in community use.

In the Council’s recent experience that evidence would be via the submission of meaningful and robust marketing evidence that would need to be considered sufficient to demonstrate that the public house has been properly advertised and marketed since it became vacant. In the absence of any compelling evidence to justify the loss of the public house, proposals could be considered to be contrary to LDF CS Policy CSTP10. 

As part of that same assessment, a viability assessment could be undertaken.  This is less common in the applications for the change of use of public houses that the Council has received, however, if there was a need to assess the viability of a proposal such as that you describe the Council has access to an independent assessor who can be appointed (at the cost of the applicant) to independently assess the viability of the proposals.  The independent viability assessors that the Council uses are Bespoke Property Consultants.

I would not envisage the Council requiring the need for a separate viability test as you describe.

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Request reference:
FOI 10192