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The impact of new planning laws

On 01/08/17 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I have recently been clearing through old files, some of which related to my time as Chief Executive of Business in Sport & Leisure. When doing so, I came across a consultation issued by the Department of Transport, Local Government & the Regions (DTLR) published in 2002, on possible changes to the Use Classes Order.

It included proposals to split Use Class A3 into three, due to the growth of what they privately described as ‘vertical drinking establishments’ and the ability of restaurants to become pubs without requiring planning permission.

The result was the creation of the new A4 Class for ‘Drinking Establishments’ (including pubs), which could become restaurants without requiring planning permission. However, the old A3 use (restaurants and café’) could not do this in reverse. The ability for both A3 and A4 to change into shops or offices without planning permission, was retained. A5 became takeaway premises.

It is perhaps a truism that the market moves much faster than most legislation! I remember well discussions with officials at the same Department and their view that it would be a good idea to block the development of multiplex cinemas! Fast forward fifteen years and the same might also be said of pubs.

The smoking ban has changed the pub market so much. Instead of concerns about wet-led pubs, we now serve a billion meals a year and the competition is often with casual dining. Instead of worrying about the growth of ‘vertical drinking establishments’, many community pubs have closed as consumer demand has fallen.

Yes, we have some very successful wet-led pubs, often selling a much wider range and choice of beers, but decreased footfall means that some pubs are no longer viable.

In places where the demand for more housing is huge alongside the growing trend for smaller local supermarkets, some have argued that it is just too easy to close a pub and sell it for an alternative use. Many others would argue that fighting the market is unhelpful, and could create a blight of closed, uneconomic pubs (which already exist in some areas), which need to find an alternative use. I am not sure that increasing costs for pubs somehow makes them perform better!

The introduction of the Asset of Community Value (ACV) legislation in 2012 offered some protection for pubs and an ability for the local community to buy the pub and often run it themselves. Some fifty percent of all assets covered by this legislation are pubs. However, many pub owners had real concerns about how the legislation was being used. The evidence ‘test’ to list a pub as an ACV seemed open to little challenge and many owners received letters from their local authority saying ‘congratulations’ when they had no intention of selling the pub for any other use.

An unintended consequence of ACV listing has been the effect on the value of the property. In some cases it was seen by banks as a reason to charge more for loans. In 2015, the legislation was further strengthened by a requirement for pubs which were ACVs to apply for planning permission for a change of use. Again, a restriction in flexibility was not welcomed by many and was particularly hard on the 18,000 pubs owned by individuals, particularly if the pub was their only major asset.

Now, we have another change through the Neighbourhood Planning Act, which received Royal Assent on 27th April, as part of the ‘wash-up’ stage of the last Parliament. The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) managed to publish Secondary Legislation which comes into effect on 23rd May.

I must admit that I was surprised to find how complicated planning law had become. When the first change was made to the A3 Use Class Order in 2005, the General Permitted Development Rights which underpinned this were relatively simple. Now, they run to some 150 pages. As part of these complicated powers, some local authorities, namely the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Southwark, have also made use of what are called Article 4 Directions.

In these boroughs, all pubs are required to apply for planning permission even for minor alterations. So, if you wish to paint the outside of the pub or put up a new fence, you need planning permission. This may protect the status of the pub, but it also increases their costs. Under the new regulations of the Neighbourhood Planning Act, these Article 4 Directions remain in place, but BBPA will be writing to both Authorities asking them to review their use in the light of the change in legislation.

So where does this leave pubs now? Whilst BBPA and our members remain concerned that there is a loss of planning flexibility for pubs, the solution which DCLG officials worked on (with us), will hopefully bring clarity and a better understanding for all.

An amendment which was initially rejected in the Commons, but passed in the Lords, created what is called a ‘Sui Generis’ (in a class of its own) for pubs. We had concerns however, that since many pubs are food-led, the distinction between the A4 use class (drinking establishments) and A3 (restaurants and cafés) is blurred. If the pub increased its food offer, would that mean that it had to apply for planning permission?

The solution eventually agreed upon, is much better. The legislation does not introduce a new use class. Instead it removes the rights of A4 drinking establishments (including pubs) to change their use to shops or full restaurants without planning permission, or indeed to be demolished. It does however, create a new development right for pubs (A4) to expand their food offer beyond what might be considered ancillary, without planning permission and there is no requirement to apply for planning permission for minor alterations. Under the legislation, the requirement for pubs covered by ACVs to apply for planning permission and the complicated 56-day notice period is also removed.

There are some technical transitional arrangements to consider, but in essence, all the changes come into force on 23rd May. BBPA will be writing to any local authority which has an Article 4 Direction to ask them to re-consider (there is a requirement to review such Directions under the legislation, although with no prescribed timetable). We will also be writing to the Mayor of London, who in a recent consultation on the Night Time economy has suggested that London Authorities consider using Article 4 Directions.

We will be pointing out that this suggestion has been overtaken by the new legislation and that asking pubs to apply for planning permission for minor alterations is costly and adds bureaucracy and red tape. Finally, CAMRA has agreed that it will no longer provide support for the local listing of pubs as ACVs, unless there is a real concern that a particular pub is going to be sold for alternative use.

What will be the long-term impact on the market? All pubs will require planning permission for change of use or demolition. By its own admission however, the Government say that 90 per cent of pubs require planning permission for either of these things anyway. The less than ideal use of ACVs as an artificial mechanism will cease. Whilst there is some loss of flexibility as against the casual dining market, a cleaner, clearer protection for pubs, with local engagement of communities where appropriate, is acceptable to all.

(A version of the article first appeared in M&C Report)

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Guest blog post: International hub to develop barley’s full potential as global crop

On 26/04/17

Colin West, Chair of the International Barley Hub writes:

Assured supplies of safe, high quality, and affordable barley are the outcome of decades of consistent research and development: the future depends on continued and upgraded research efforts to give farmers profitable varieties appropriate to different markets, by combatting issues arising from the relatively narrow gene pool of current varieties and by radically shortening development times for new varieties.

The James Hutton Institute - the world-leading research centre based in Scotland - is working to endow the new International Barley Hub with its expertise by collaborating with industry and other academic bodies to establish a unique platform for the translation of barley research into commercial benefits for the entire brewing, distilling and food value chain, with very important implications for food security worldwide.

The initiative aims to develop a commercially-focused innovation centre, which would also serve as a training and development ground for barley research skills at an international level. It builds on the critical mass available at the James Hutton Institute and the co-located barley group from the University of Dundee, which together are already considered a world-leading barley research cluster, and the concentration of growers, maltsters, distillers and processors in the vicinity. The James Hutton Institute has a long history of collaborating with the worldwide barley community.

Barley remains a staple food crop in many parts of the world, and efforts are being made to capitalise on its hardiness and adaptability, especially in developing countries. Likewise, its nutritional benefits are of increasing interest to food and ingredient producers in developed countries.

For brewing, the benefits of research can be seen in the current availability of high quality malting barleys, but there continues to be a need to increase yields, improve disease resistance, work on quality issues, improve processability, adapt to global climate trends – amongst other things! These improvements are important in the UK, but also across the globe in other malting barley regions.

The Barley Hub is one of over 50 projects submitted for UK government funding by Tayside Cities Deal: a decision is anticipated later this year. In the interim, work has commenced to build the governance structure of the Hub and to start activities which are not dependent on the new building.

For more information about the International Barley Hub project, please visit the Barley Hub website, or contact Colin West directly on


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Are millennials to thank for increasing trade in the leisure sector?

On 03/04/17

Simon Mydlowski, leisure and hospitality partner at Gordons, examines whether millennials are to thank for the growth in dining and drinking out.

The UK’s pub, bar and restaurant scene has constantly evolved over the years to meet changing tastes, behaviour and buying patterns.

One of the key challenges for many venues has been deciding whether to cater for all demographics or to focus on attracting key age groups with a distinct offering, and recent figures from Deloitte could influence this approach.

Data compiled by the business advisory firm shows that leisure sector spending in the fourth quarter of 2016, which includes food and drink purchases in bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants, was driven by the 18 to 34-year-old age group.

This demographic – now commonly referred to as ‘millennials’ - is playing a major role in driving growth in the leisure trade, and it is clear to see how this is occurring when looking at the evolution of the leisure sector in recent years.

Evolving tastes and offerings

There has been a clear rise in the number of boutique, artisan and alternative venues across the UK over the past few years, with café culture now firmly ingrained in Britain, and the exponential growth of craft beer destinations with unique food and drink offerings turning the tide of staying in.

The fall-out from the economic downturn was a major factor in people’s reticence to dine and drink out, but the recovering economy has had a catalytic effect on the leisure market, with the chief factor being that people simply have more disposable income.

According to Deloitte’s index, confidence among millennials is at a six-year high, which is a stark contrast with older consumers; spending on eating and drinking out has fallen by one percentage point for those aged between 35 to 54 and by two percentage points for those aged 55 or over.

Future outlook

Most indicators point towards the leisure sector continuing to embrace the trend for millennial-focused venues, with proprietors realising that this demographic is not only more likely to spend their disposable income at their venues, but also evolve into long-term customers.

Other considerations will include the potential impact of the hard Brexit and how the fall-out will affect both the pockets and spending habits of consumers, as well as the effect on supply chains and the food and drinks products served.

While many pubs, bars and restaurants will continue to aim for diversity in their offerings to ensure that all demographics and tastes are catered for, those that pay particular attention to the desires of the millennial generation may be the ones in the best position to benefit.

To contact Simon please call 01274 202514, email or visit the Gordons LLP website.


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BBPA writes to Local Alcohol Action Areas

On 15/03/17 by Jack Shepherd (Policy and Information Officer)

The Home Office has now named the 33 areas that will be participating in phase two of the Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAA) initiative. The second phase was announced in 2016 with the introduction of the new Modern Crime Prevention Strategy and builds upon the first LAAA initiative, which saw the BBPA offer its support to the 20 areas involved. The second phase has three core aims related to reducing alcohol-related health harms, diversification of the night-time economy and preventing alcohol-related crime and disorder. Regarding the latter, participating areas will be required to address one or more of a core set of issues including:

• How can local areas improve the collection, sharing and use of data between A&E Departments, local authorities and the police?
• How can local authorities, the police and businesses ensure the safe movement of people in the night time economy?
• How can local areas expand their use of safe spaces?
• How can local authorities, the police and business work together to help prevent the sale of alcohol to drunks in both the off- and on-trades?
• How can local authorities, the police and business work together to help design out crime?

The participating areas will be aided by the Home Office with a support manager and will have access to expertise from elsewhere in central Government. Support will also come from members of the Local Alcohol Partnerships Group, which is facilitated by the Portman Group and in which the BBPA is a participant. Other members include DrinkAware and local partnership initiatives such as National Pubwatch, Best Bar None, Purple Flag, Street Pastors and Community Alcohol Partnerships. The BBPA has long supported such initiatives.

The launch of the first phase was broadly welcomed by the trade but some initial uncertainty had developed around the exact role of business throughout the process. This time there is no uncertainty and the launch of the second phase is undoubtedly a testament to the success of phase one, which saw businesses work closely with local authorities and police in order to provide effective local solutions for alcohol-related issues. This kind of close partnership working has been consistently supported by the BBPA and its members. It is encouraging that businesses are increasingly identified as key stakeholders when addressing local alcohol-related issues. The local knowledge that businesses possess, alongside their willingness to create a safe and responsible environment, is vital and they are progressively recognised, not as the cause of the problem, but as the solution.

With this in mind, an official BBPA offer of support has now been sent to the participating areas to outline a number of ways in which the Association and its members can help to make a difference at local level with targeted and coordinated solutions. The offer of support includes assistance in utilising the BBPA’s campaign on serving drunks, which was initiated as a commitment to the Home Office and its Modern Crime Prevention Strategy, and is a central focus for many of the participating areas. The offer also highlights the BBPA’s unit awareness campaign and age verification materials, as well as the vast range of up-to-date guidance that the BBPA provides to assist licensees with all aspects of running a pub. Finally, it encourages stakeholders in participating areas to engage with BBPA members at a local level.

It is promising that Government now recognises the strength of the local partnership approach in tackling alcohol related issues. The BBPA and its members look forward to working with the participating areas in the near future.

Jack Shepherd
Policy and Information Officer


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National Pubwatch conference 2017

On 03/03/17 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

Over two hundred delegates from the trade, police and other stakeholders gathered in Reading for the 14th National Pubwatch conference. For those not in the know, National Pubwatch is the body that supports existing pubwatches, provides guidance and assists in setting up new watches. Pubwatches themselves are voluntary groups set up by licensees working together to promote a safe drinking environment, in partnership with the police and licencing authorities.

This year’s conference was special in that 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of National Pubwatch, and the organisation has been key in making licensed premises and the overall night-time environment safer for customers and businesses alike over the last two decades, as the key partnership scheme for pubs. The full story can be found in the 20th anniversary magazine here

This year’s conference clearly showed that National Pubwatch was determined not to rest on its laurels. Following the welcome from National Pubwatch Chairman Steve Baker, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Francis Habgood outlined the force’s experiences in partnership working with licensed premises and the wider impact of the late night sector. He talked about the key role licensed premises have in ensuring vulnerable people (such as those left alone during a night out, or have had too much to drink) are kept safe in the night time economy – a theme followed up by police licensing chief ACC Rachael Kearton who also flagged vulnerability as a key priority going forward for the police, who will want to see the trade taking further steps in this area.

The trade view came from the BBPA’s very own Andy Tighe, who highlighted the social, economic and employment benefits of the UK’s vibrant pub sector, the current challenges faced, and the work done by industry over recent years, and continues to do, to tackle alcohol-related harm and promote responsible retailing and local partnerships . Andy also showcased the current initiative from the BBPA aimed at raising awareness on the law around serving and buying drinks for those who are drunk, in partnership with National Pubwatch and Drinkaware - include social media resources and point of sale material which can be found downloaded free of charge here

Andy’s presentation can be found here

This was followed by annual awards for outstanding individuals who have supported pubwatches across the country. The day continued with the break-out sessions, a hallmark of National Pubwatch conferences that really allows delegates to get close to current issues with key speakers and plenty of opportunity for questions, answers and debates. Stephen Walsh QC shone a light on the complex but vital subject of data protection. Barrister Gary Grant updated the conference on recent licencing developments all pub operators should be aware of, with key analysis of new and upcoming changes to the licencing regime.

The second break-out session from PC Matt Moss and licensee Gemma Sands focused on partnership working in Portsmouth between the trade and police, and the effect this has had on the crime rate in the night-time economy which has plummeted in recent years. Key insights included the use of alerts and bans to change the behaviour of customers attempting to use or bring drugs or legal highs into venues and discourage this by socially isolating the individuals concerned – sending a message that drugs would not be tolerated. Pubwatch stalwarts Michael Kheng, Tim Robson and Steve Evans gave an overview of Challenge 21, serving to drunks - which included new National Pubwatch training films, with the serving drunks film funded by BBPA, and freely available here and conflict management.

As it has done for the past fourteen years, the National Pubwatch conference provided in-depth discussion sessions with leading experts, a chance for licensees to meet National Pubwatch representatives and ask questions on the day-to-day practicalities of running a pubwatch, and a forum for the trade, police, local authorities and others to network on common issues. The unique nature and importance of the conference was highlighted yet again in its 20th year. The BBPA has been a supporter and promoter of pubwatches and National Pubwatch for a number of years, and we urge members to support National Pubwatch and promote the scheme to their lessees, tenants and managers.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


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Recruiting and retaining future talent in your business

On 10/02/17 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

As an industry we recognise the challenges of recruiting and retaining staff. Research from employment and skills consultancy People 1st indicates that 1.3 million are needed in hospitality by 2014, but three quarters of these will be replacement staff. Retention is as important as recruitment. Exiting the EU brings many more challenges and an initial assessment of a survey the BBPA carried out of our members shows that some 27 per cent of pub workers are from overseas (23 per cent from the EU) but in kitchen staff, this rises to 40 per cent and in metropolitan areas, it is 40 per cent and above.

In response, the BBPA joined forces with ALMR, BII and People 1st to hold a joint conference last week, inviting all our members to share best practice and look at what more we could all do.

In my introduction, I talked about this being an agenda which is vital to the success of our industry. We face cost increases. The Apprenticeship Levy adds costs, but the fact that we cannot use the money in our wider supply chains, (particularly in leased and tenanted pubs) is an added headache. We have seen increases in the Living and National Minimum Wage, and we also have a business rates revaluation and the auto enrolment of pensions.

The conference began with the Department of Education giving us a presentation on the Apprenticeship Levy and its funding mechanism. Most of the details can be found in a BBPA paper here.

Annette Allmark from People 1st then described how apprenticeships will work in practice. She listed the seven standards available for hospitality and explained the end assessment which must be taken when completed.

This was the main recommendation from Doug Richards a few years ago when he was asked by the Government to compare our qualifications with the rest of the world. A system which offers a ‘pass’ or ‘distinction’ acts as an added incentive, but there is also a requirement to take English and maths assessments. Companies can provide the training themselves, or work with a training providers. The BII has recently been approved as an ‘end’ assessor and People 1st have set up a Hospitality Apprenticeship Board to assist in the development of the right standards for us all. People 1st believes that employing an apprentice can add £5.2k annually to the bottom line.

A very good panel session followed with employers talking about building relationships with schools, how the attention of apprentices can be much better than normal recruits; the opportunities as a young manager to earn £60K and how industry training is not only fun, but allows employees to work almost anywhere in the world. Apprenticeships must be aspirational.

The afternoon heard about trends from People 1st, from the Low Pay Commission and from Catton consultancy. A second panel session talked about working with local schools and colleges, local charities and even the Prison Service to recruit chefs. Retention ideas from bringing chefs together twice a year to share ideas to a fishing trip to catch fish and then cook it. Many are looking at offering more flexibility in working hours.

We face an unprecedented challenge from Brexit, but also a great opportunity. The new industrial strategy offers us possibilities to work as a sector across Government, and training and productivity are an important part of that challenge. A really good day, plenty to think about and good to work with other partners to bring us all together.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The Sun story – 5.3 pence more tax on every pint

On 07/02/17 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

You may have seen our story in The Sun at the weekend, as we briefed the paper with a new BBPA analysis on the impact of new cost increases facing pubs.

We are highlighting the figures as part of our campaign for a 1p cut in beer duty in the Budget on 8th March.

The Sun reported that the overall effect of these changes are equivalent to a ten per cent rise in beer duty, or a 5.3 pence tax rise, on every pint.

The full breakdown contains a number of elements. By 2020, the Apprenticeship Levy will add 0.1p per pint, increases in the National Living Wage 2.8p, and auto enrolling pensions, 1.3p. Pubs are also being hit by business rates revaluation, costing 0.6p per pint.
This brings the total to the 5.3p quoted in The Sun, equivalent to an 11 per cent rise in beer duty. The cost to a typical pub from these measures is £7,178, or a hefty £374 million across the industry as a whole by 2020.

These are very significant cost rises, and action is needed to support pubs. A penny cut in beer duty is one very targeted way of getting help to pubs, at relatively little cost to the Government.

As the report rightly highlights, we also need action to business rates. Across the whole economy (in England) pubs generate 0.5 per cent of turnover yet pay 2.8 per cent of the business rates bill.

The impact of the recent revaluation means that there are thousands of pubs receiving very high increases in their rates bills.

Whilst the introduction of transitional rate relief will help somewhat, pubs with a rateable value of £100,000 or more are facing an increase of 42 per cent .

In total, some 15,467 pubs will be paying more in business rates than they were previously. This includes 2,406 pubs that will be paying at least 40 per cent more over the next five years.

Pubs pay business rates based on turnover and a huge proportion of their turnover is tax. This is, in effect, a ‘tax on a tax’. Reforms are badly needed to ensure that capital investment in pubs generating greater additional turnover is not penalised by higher business rates.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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A visit to Hogs Back

On 25/01/17 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

It seems that you need to be called Thompson to to run Hogs Back brewery - there are three of them, all unrelated! Time spent with Rupert Thompson is never wasted with his fluidity of ideas and plans for the future.

Despite freezing fog from the South Coast all the way to Farnham and a hop garden which not surprisingly was showing little growth in January, it was a very worthwhile visit! Rupert has worked at, and owned, several different breweries, some of which are now owned by other members of the BBPA. He also has interest in start-ups, including photovoltaic cells and jet engines for cars. All rather fascinating, even if you are not very scientific! He is also a non-Executive Director of Thatchers and Martin Thatcher sits on his board too. Cider and beer; a modern combination.

Growing your own hops, (Hogs Back sources the majority of its hops from within five miles of the brewery), creates a very obvious interest in localism and provenance. A trainee television crew from Southampton University were there filming and the brewery and its hop garden has featured on Countryfile.

There is a very wide range of beers, some unique for a brewery of their size; I took with me several bottles to enjoy in due course! Hogs Back won the BBPA ‘Grain to Glass’ Award at our Annual Dinner in 2015. They are proud of this and other awards and it was great to see BBPA acknowledged on a pump clip in Farnham.

Rupert is passionate about training, beer and health, and how we ensure that subsidies are properly and fairly used. He is certainly on a mission in a number of areas and has an energy to carry most of them through.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Pub is the Hub in Sussex

On 13/01/17 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Last April, I attended the launch of the Pub is The Hub scheme with Wealden District Council in East Sussex. John Longden, the Pub is The Hub Chief Executive who has all of our support and indeed admiration, has just sent me an update which I think is worth sharing, not least because it shows the true community spirit of pubs and what can be achieved in partnership at a local level.

Two pubs in Pevensey have set up a book exchange for local residents. The books can be donated, borrowed, or people pick up the same book to read every time they visit the pub: A pub library!

Barclays Bank supports ‘Digital Eagles’ which provides computer sessions for those who want to learn to use one; often the older generation. Again two pubs in Pevensey provide free tea, coffee and cake for those who take a seven week course with Barclays, with an average attendance of twelve. They will soon be joined by more sessions in Herstmonceux.

‘Applause’ is a rural touring theatre, with support from Wealden District Council and Pub is The Hub. They were awarded nearly half a million pounds of funding from the Arts Council. With this funding they will be able to work on a project to bring events to rural pubs across the South East and East of England. So far there has been a very successful performance at a pub in Wadhurst and more are now planned.

‘Man Sheds’ are sheds or outbuildings offered to a charity which can provide space for a workshop. They are used by volunteers to make benches and other things which can be used in the local community. This is as much about bringing people together who are perhaps retired or out of work to give them a focus or somewhere to socialise. Two are planned as part of a pub in 2017.

And finally, there is a school allotment; in 2017 Pub is the Hub will be working with a pub in Herstmonceux to set up an allotment for the local primary school. The school is situated opposite the pub with easy access to the garden area via a pedestrian crossing. This could lead to other ideas – school dinner, competitions etc.

What a wealth of ideas of how communities can work with local pubs! I remember at the launch Wealden Council telling me that the pub is in many areas the last publicly available community building. They are keen to keep their pubs and encourage residents to use them. Pub is the Hub does a wonderful job in helping local authorities to set up these ideas and in helping pubs themselves to diversify, survive and thrive. For more information visit the Pub is the Hub website.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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