The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called for a united effort from government, local authorities and the pub industry to help protect the future of the capital’s pubs, as he released new figures showing that numbers continue their long-term decline across the capital.
The figures show that while pub numbers have increased in Hackney, City of London, Camden, Bexley, Greenwich, Hounslow and Lewisham, the numbers overall in London have fallen by 2.4 per cent, from 3,615 to 3,530.
The Mayor says he is “doing everything within his powers to support the trade”, including establishing more stringent planning requirements to stop pubs being redeveloped as other classes of property, appointing a Night Czar to champion London as a 24-hour city, and establishing a world-first “Culture at Risk” Office to help save pubs for communities. He says that these new figures make it clear that more needs to be done and he has called for more support to help the capital’s pubs, which he believes play such an important role in local communities.
The Mayor wants the Government, local authorities and the industry to do more, including the Government reviewing its valuation policy for pubs which has produced large rises in business rates.
Between 2000 and 2018, demolition of pubs has been the most common reason for pub closures in London. Sadiq is calling on local authorities to step up to become stewards of their local pubs and to use the tighter planning powers in his draft London Plan to support their pubs.
The Mayor’s draft London Plan, which he says is the most “pro-pub” planning framework the capital has ever seen, acknowledges the role pubs play in communities, and urges boroughs to resist applications to redevelop beer gardens, ensure new residential developments near to pubs are suitably soundproofed so they can co-exist, and support new pubs to be built.
The problem of falling pub numbers is not a new one with numbers declining since the 1960s. It is thought to be down to a number of pressures, including changing drinking habits, development, rising rents and business rates. Small pubs are the most vulnerable, with a 50 per cent fall since 2001 (3,390 to 1,710 pubs) while the number of larger pubs has increased by 28 per cent over the same period (405 to 1,445 pubs). Although the number of pubs in London fell in 2016/17, the number of people employed by pubs has remained steady at 46,400 people.
Sadiq’s annual pub audit, in partnership with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), is part of his commitment to protecting the capital’s culture.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The traditional London pub has been at the heart of London’s communities for hundreds of years, but sadly they continue to face a long-term decline in numbers. As Mayor, I have made safeguarding and growing London’s night-time economy a priority, and am doing all I can to protect the capital’s iconic pubs. By creating the most pro-pub planning strategy the capital has ever seen I’ve shown what can be done, and I want to see the Government and local authorities match my ambition and help protect these key community hubs for generations to come.”