Cambridge City Council were concerned about the continued loss of public houses in the city and their conversion to residential properties.  A study suggested that more than 20 pubs had been lost in recent years, with implications for local jobs and community vibrancy.  In addition, the presence of a good variety of local public houses is part of the quality of Cambridge’s offer to the city’s residents, students and tourists.  In a city like Cambridge, where land is highly sought after for development, particularly as the city is bounded by a tight green belt, public houses have come under increasing pressure for conversion to residential land use.  The Council commissioned research to understand the extent of the problem and to investigate how the viability of the public house in Cambridge could be supported in future.  The report showed that relatively speaking, the city had an undersupply of pubs in comparison with other similar historic cities and it was therefore important to safeguard the remaining pubs from conversion.  As a result, the council developed Interim Planning Policy Guidance which aimed to make it more difficult for public houses to be converted for alternative uses, unless a set of strict criteria could be met.  Pubs that close must be marketed as free houses for a minimum of 12 months.

Key features of this approach

  • Local distinctiveness – recognising the importance of local pubs for community vibrancy and as a focal point for people to meet.
  • Local employment – ensuring that local jobs in the community are protected.
  • Encouraging local businesses – prioritising the importance of local businesses and jobs ahead of property development.

To learn more

More information available on the Cambridge City Council Website.

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