Just before the Windmill in Sydenham closed in January 2014, SE London CAMRA submitted an application to Lewisham Council to have the pub registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) which was duly granted.
The property owner’s initial appeal was dismissed by the Council but a further appeal was made with the owner claiming, amongst other things, that as a branch of a national organisation SE London CAMRA was ineligible to make an ACV application.
Following this second appeal, the case was heard at a formal tribunal which took place in a courtroom near Chancery Lane on 11th December 2014. Alongside Lewisham Council, as Branch Pub Protection Officer I represented CAMRA at the hearing, accompanied by Mary McKernan, a local resident who has campaigned tirelessly to save the Windmill, and also a CAMRA member.
The judge gave his ruling on 23 January 2015 which, I’m delighted to say, turned down the appeal and upheld the Council’s decision to accept the Branch’s ACV application. This ruling therefore creates a legal precedent that local CAMRA branches can seek ACV protection for pubs in their area – this should greatly assist CAMRA’s aim of significantly increasing the number of pubs with ACV status.

Asset of Community Value Status Strengthened
Parliament voted in January 2015 to strengthen the planning regime applying to pubs registered as Assets of Community Value (ACV).
The government has now announced that from 6 April 2015 pubs that are listed as an ACV in England will require planning permission to be demolished or changed to any other use. In effect existing permitted development rights will be removed for pubs listed as ACVs for as long as the pub is on the local authority’s list.
These landmark changes can be attributed to CAMRA’s continued campaigning and to the thousands of CAMRA members who lobbied MPs to abolish permitted development rights for pubs.
These planning changes, together with the legal ruling outlined above, could see CAMRA’s role in the Community Right to Bid process increase substantially and as a result of these changes CAMRA may have an even greater say in the future of pubs in England.
The changes laid before Parliament on 12 March 2015 that come into force on 6 April can be summarised as:
• Pubs listed as ACVs will require planning permission to change their use or be demolished. This includes pubs already listed as ACVs;
• Planning permission will be required to change the use or demolish a pub from the point of ACV nomination - CAMRA requested this amendment and the Government obliged;
• Planning permission will be required for change of use and or demolition for the period that the pub is listed as an ACV which is five years from the date of listing;
• As part of the changes, pub owners and developers will be required to ascertain whether pubs not on the ACV list have actually been nominated. This must be done formally in writing.
• The local authority has 56 days to confirm whether the pub is listed or nominated. This means the owner cannot change use or demolish a pub lawfully within the prescribed 56 day period.

As a result of these changes CAMRA branches and members are urged to draw up a priority list of pubs to nominate as ACV – this should focus both on pubs we would least like to lose and those considered to be under most threat.
If you identify a suitable candidate please email preservation@sel.camra.org.uk