Beer campaigners bitter about Sheffield council's community hub pub record

University Arms Sheffield "save our pub" protests
University Arms Sheffield "save our pub" protests
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Pub watchdogs are bitter over Sheffield City Council's reluctance to give city inns community asset status.

Tavern champions Campaign for Real Ale this week called time on Asset of Community Value dismissals, demanding permanent measures now be introduced as lifelines for locals.

Uncertainty surrounds The Plough Sheffield

Uncertainty surrounds The Plough Sheffield

They maintain Sheffield City Council has received 21 ACV applications, "vast majority" of which have been rejected with only eight succeeding.

CAMRA crusaders also claim not a single decision has been made within 8-week deadline due to "obstacles and obstructions" while one conclusion took tardy 51 weeks.

And they cite case of The Plough in Sandygate, which won ACV status in 2015, yet a year later was subject of Sainsbury’s bid to convert it into a convenience store. The planning application received reported 157 comments, 151 objecting, since when planning hearing has twice been postponed.

"We understand the council have been in discussion with the developers," said a campaign spokesman. The council is this week unavailable for comment.

CAMRA Sheffield pub heritage officer Dave Pickersgill commented: "Our local branch has worked tirelessly with the community in Sheffield to try to get beloved pubs nominated as ACVs. Unfortunately our council continues to place obstacles and obstructions in the way of our nominations, even if they clearly meet the criteria for registration.

"We are especially perplexed by recent decision regarding the University Arms, which was turned down as an ACV without any legitimate reasons. The council seems to be going out of its way to find reasons not to accept nominations by 'gold-plating' their requirements and asking for information well over and above what is legally necessary".

He asked: "Why should local community groups have to jump through hoops to save their beloved local when the government could simply protect all pubs under the planning system?"

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CAMRA's South Yorkshire bitter blast comes as pub crusaders celebrate 2,000 English campaigning groups successfully listing their local as Assets of Community Value.

Since such legislation was introduced in May last year, removing Permitted Development Rights from hostelries nominated as ACVs, communities have fought to ensure their inns are registered and therefore subject to usual planning application process. Without registration, pubs can be demolished or converted overnight without public consultation.

ACVs can be granted on any building that has a proven strong community focus but pubs have had by far biggest take-up. Of just under 4,000 ACVs on buildings such as libraries, community centres and post offices, half have been granted for licensed premises.

CAMRA is calling on the government to cut red tape surrounding a "frustrating process" that puts burden on local communities and councils who deal with "lengthy and clunky" procedure. Instead, they believe placing pubs in a class of their own so owners must always seek planning permission before conversion or demolition will provide greater lifeline for locals.

CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine added: "It is heartening so many communities across England have spent so much time going through the process of nominating their pub as an Asset of Community Value. This shows a huge appetite for protecting pubs, which are more than just businesses. They are invaluable landmarks in our communities.

"Unfortunately, the ACV process can be time-consuming, fraught with difficulties and, at the end of the day, is only a temporary measure. Listings must be renewed every five years to maintain protection.

"It simply doesn’t make sense pub-goers have to jump through these extra hoops when it is clear so many communities overwhelmingly want a say on the future of their much-loved pub".

He added: "All we are asking for is a level playing field where a planning application on a pub has to go through the full planning process.”