Proposal to seek more powers to stop Norwich pubs being turned into supermarkets

The Tesco Express store at the former Firs pub site, Hellesdon. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Tesco Express store at the former Firs pub site, Hellesdon. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant copyright 2011

Norwich city council has agreed to apply for more powers to stop pubs being turned into supermarkets or being demolished without planning permission.

It is one of 35 councils which is submitting a proposal to government under the Sustainable Communities Act to seek a change in national planning regulations.

At present, pubs can be turned into supermarkets without the new owners having to apply for planning permission.

Mike Stonard, cabinet member for environment, development and transport, said at a cabinet meeting last night that 69pc of people who responded to a consultation were in support of the pub protection bid, with 20pc in opposition.

He pointed out that Norwich had lost 35 pubs since 2004, many of which had been converted to restaurants or other commercial uses without the need for formal planning permission for the change of use.

He said: 'The idea of this is to give local people and local communities the power to protect their pubs, which are a valuable community resource.'

Mr Stonard said it was not a case of 'bad pubs closing' and many factors were involved. He said: 'It could be rising costs imposed by landlords, high rents, increasing land values which make alternative uses attractive, high prices of alcohol in pubs compared to shops, and competition with other pursuits.'

The Norwich Evening News has, through its Love Your Local campaign, sought to highlight the pubs which are at the heart of our communities and to encourage people to use them or lose them.