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Monday, 15 June 2015

Corrib Rest Queens Park

The Corrib Rest on Salusbury Road is closed, and a number of residents are seeking to prevent its redevelopment by listing it as an asset of community value (ACV).  Unfortunately ACV status does not do what many people seem to think it does.

Planning
An idea has gone around that ACV status is important in refusing planning permission.  This emerged as widely held belief as part of the campaign against rebuilding The Queensbury in Willesden.  In fact, the Planning Inspector gave no real consideration to ACV status in that case.  Whereas ACV status is a "material consideration" that just means that the Committee consider it, it carries no particular guidance as to how much weight they attach.  In both The Queensbury and the former Kensal Rise Library cases, officers advised that ACV status was not an important factor. 

What can be more important is change of use from "community use" (D1) status.  Brent has a policy of resisting loss of community space (defined as D1 class in planning terms), so that can be a barrier to redevelopment.  It certainly was in the Kensal Rise case, as library use is unequivocally D1 status.  It also featured in The Queensbury, as it was argued that some of the pub uses were effectively community use (especially the Busy Rascals toddler group).  However, the developer met those concerns in the proposal so it was not a reason for refusal, and therefore never came before the Inspector.

I am not sure whether parts of the Corrib Rest might have a claim to D1 status, given its former somewhat controversial history as the Irish Centre.  It may do as it might be viewed as a community centre, and it might be possible to retrospectively classify it as such, although I am sure that any developer would challenge such a move.  If it is simply seen as a pub such a move would not be possible and it would not have protection against change of use.

Pub Protection
In some authorities, pubs do have specific protection, but not in Brent.  I understand The Queensbury campaign lobbied for such a policy, and were even promised changes would be made to the Council's Planning policies, but no such changes were made at the relevant meetings.

ACV Status and Ownership Transfer
Where ACV status might be relevant to any Corrib Rest development is in terms of transfer of ownership.  This is in fact the main purpose of ACV status under the Localism Act.  If successfully listed, ACV listing would force a moratorium on any sale for six months to allow community groups to see if they could muster sufficient funds to buy the property. 

Again this is not as much of a barrier as it sounds.  With London prices, I doubt whether any community group could afford anything like the market price.  The owner does not actually have to sell to such a group in any case, merely allow a six month pause.  Ownership has no effect on planning permission.  I have heard a rumour that people are being told that the Council can delay considering a planning application because of ACV status.  I am sure that is wrong.  The Council is obliged to consider all applications (including any that came from some one who did not own the land).  If it were to refuse to do so, or delay without good reason, the applicant could appeal to the Planning Inspector and get a decision that way.

A final point worth making, is that ACV status only kicks in if the Council actually decides to grant it, which is not automatic.  If the building were to be sold prior to ACV status being granted, there would be no moratorium, as happened in the case of the former Kensal Rise Library.

UPDATE

One of the comments below points out that ACV status will automatically force an applicant to ask for planning permission if they want to change the Corrib Rest from a pub to something else, following changes to the use class rules that came into force from April.  I still suspect that this something of a distraction, however, as Brent has historically given little weight to ACV status as a planning consideration.

FURTHER UPDATE

It is odd how irate anonymous comments can be.  In response to the most recent comment, I have published a correction.  As far as I am aware, no one currently knows if there is any plan to change the use of the Corrib Rest.  There may be, or it might reopen as a pub/restaurant again as has often happened in other cases.

5 comments:

  1. You are incorrect and out of date James.

    The Planning Inspector could not give weight to the ACV status in the Queensbury appeal because he could only determine whether Brent's grounds for refusal were fair, he was not allowed to look at issues which may have been pertinent to the case unless they were specifically listed in Brent's decision. It is unfortunate that Brent's Planning Committee chose not to regard ACV status, as it has been a factor in saving other pubs and would have put ACVs in Brent on a stronger footing.

    Secondly, a government reform from April of this year removed permitted development rights from ACV listed buildings after a strong campaign from CAMRA and local councils (which Brent declined to be a part of). Previously, permitted development rights came into play if the use class changed from pub to retail/bank etc (but not residential) and this is why so many pubs have been converted to supermarkets with local authorities largely powerless to stop them. Now at least there is a process of applying to planning committee and the opportunity for councillors/ the public to object which there previously was not.

    So ACV does have strong planning relevance, it is now coded into planning regulations and there are signs that it could be strengthened further.

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  2. Oh dear James, sounds like you need to do some research before writing blog posts in future. Maybe you could go to a library...

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  3. James has made a further error.

    "I have heard a rumour that people are being told that the Council can delay considering a planning application because of ACV status. I am sure that is wrong."

    You are incorrect and your comments on a complex issue about which you have limited knowledge is not helpful to residents who are already confused and trying to understand a difficult and convoluted process.

    The April reforms mean that a developer has to apply for information from the local authority as to whether a pub is listed as an ACV or not. This was the application seen on Brent's website that caused so much confusion. Now that an ACV application has been submitted by residents any development plans must be suspended while the ACV status is decided. If the ACV application is refused the developer can proceed to change use under permitted development rules, if the ACV is accepted they will need to go through the process of a full planning application which will go before the planning committee.

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  4. You still can't acknowledge in your update that you are completely wrong can you? The ACV application has delayed a change of use until the ACV status is decided. It may further delay, and could even prevent, a change of use if the ACV is granted. That is a fact and is the complete opposite to what you have written above.

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  5. Sounds like you haven't really got anything right in this blog post James. Maybe you should just delete it?

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