DEVELOPERS & SPECULATORS - TAKE CARE WHEN BIDDING FOR A DEFUNCT PUB
There are a multitude of closed pubs around England at the moment offering juicy opportunities for developers with cash in the bank. Quite recently, for example, two substantial free house pubs in Herefordshire each sold at auction for under 200K and pub companies as well as administrators are eager to turn loss-making investments into cash to offset debts.
However, these bargain basement pubs become a liability to the purchaser unless there is planning permission in place or a "Pre-app" indication from the local planning officer suggesting that permission for a change of use will be forthcoming. In most cases the vendor or his agent will not accept conditional offers and a rapid exchange of contracts is required followed by a 28 day completion.
We specialise in providing developers with peace of mind by recommending ways of applying for Change-of-Use which can be applied for in tandem with the proposed scheme for the property.
You probably already have an architect engaged for such projects and your regional commercial property agent will tell you that they can provide aviability appraisal. BUT can they compile the report so that the planners vote in your favour? It is unlikely that the infinite detail we provide to convince planners that the application should be approved would be provided by your current advisors. Our reports are intricate and time consuming and it is essential that they are presented in our unique format.
Defunct pubs are often lacking historical trading figures which are essential for proving the business has become unviable. Our system can replicate trading accounts comparing them with nationally recognised statistics (FMT) which show the business has become consistently loss-making.
Developers may look at a decrepit pub and conjure up a vision of swanky apartments or town houses but this can sometimes jeopardise a Change-of-Use application. There needs to be some "give and take" dealing with planners who will sometimes take a negative approach to applications for a pub to cease trading or to go for alternative use. It's sometimes beneficial for the applicant to lower their sights a little and incorporate something which impresses the planning committee and concentrates their minds on that debatable subject of Change-of-Use.
The Localism Act 2011 has presented a new challenge when applying for a change of use. The building can now be listed as an Asset of Community Value at any time thus creating a restriction on the title and hindering with any future intentions to develop or sell the property.
Note: We can usually compile our report WITHOUT attending the site as the research is available from the internet and our vast knowledge of the industry.