HOW TO CHANGE THE USE OF YOUR PUBLIC HOUSE
If you are the freehold owner, you can close your business down any time you like but you cannot alter the trading areas without planning consent. You can continue living over the trading areas in a care-taking capacity but you cannot change or live in the trading areas without permission for a change of use.
There may be an opportunity for a change of use to the building and land if the business has become unviable in the long-term and all the provisions in the Local Plan policies have been met. The new use could be as a residential dwelling or as an alternative community facility such as a shop, children's day nursery or a meeting place. Alternative community is the first thing planners look for if the A4 use has become defunct. In most cases where the pub is in a village or rural location an alternative community facility would not be viable and sustainable but the possibilities must be considered.
The other option might be to create a mixed use whereby a second community facility joins the pub so that one supports the other and the pub is retained.
Assuming that you are in a position to proceed with change of use, take a good look at the proposal you have for the existing building. It's no good just going to the planners for a change of use from A4 to C3 as they will just say "but what are you going to do with it?" Therefore you need a scheme for the property including how you propose to landscape that huge tarmac car park. Do not over-do it and apply for extras such as a dwelling in the car park, extension to the rear etc. Just get the principle in place first which is a change of use for the ground floor (unless you have first floor trading areas or letting bedrooms) from a public house to a residential dwelling and to do this you require a professionally prepared viability and marketing report.
Most chartered surveyors and property agents will claim to be able to prepare a Change-of-Use application on your behalf but most are unable to enter into the detail that a successful application requires and you could end up paying more money a report which will not be sufficient for your needs. Also there may be a conflict of interest if the selling agent prepares a viability study.
It is not our will to randomly close pubs which are the epitome of our Great English Heritage but there are times when the only way for a pub building to remain in any shape or form is for it to be given a new life. Hence the need for the initial free appraisal which rates the chance of success.
Warning:-If you own a pub which is currently successful and you are merely just looking for a quick profit from a development, there is little chance that you will be granted a Change-of-Use and we would probably not accept your instruction. Similarly, if you have misinterpreted your business, such as carrying out an inappropriate refurbishment which has had a detrimental effect on trade, or you are an unpopular licensee who has frightened off all the clientele, it may be more difficult to prove that the business is no longer viable.
Let's assume that you have done everything in your power to make the business a success and outside elements are simply weighing against you:-
Change-of-use is not rocket science but one needs to understand the opinions of the planners and those objectors who appear out of the woodwork claiming that they have been using the pub for years when, in fact, you have probably never taken a penny off them.
Most other Change-of-Use reports we have researched only look at the national trend in closures and at the non-viability of the business. Viability is a key issue but we have learned to thoroughly examine every aspect of the individual pub in question such as its trading history, calibre of past & present landlords, nearby competition, possible alternative community use, residents’ opinions to name but a few of the points we may address in detail. We present the facts to the readers of our report thus enabling them to arrive at a fair and balanced decision.
By instructing us to prepare a Viability Report and Business Appraisal will strengthen your application to change the use of your premises.
DON'T WANT TO CHANGE THE USE OF YOUR PUB ENTIRELY?
Perhaps you are looking at other ways to boost turnover or claw back some capital. You may have under-used rooms or areas which can be brought into play. These could be outbuildings, a skittle alley or old barn or possibly you have an area of surplus land or a large car park where a residential development can be considered. Don’t be put off by being told that there is no chance of obtaining consent – we will tell you the odds in favour during our free appraisal* *see terms & conditions