In determining the deemed application the inspector stated that the main issue was whether the sub-division harmed the viability and function of the public house. The pub occupied a backstreet site within a predominately residential conservation area and had been a designated Asset of Community Value (ACV) since 2014. It had been on the market since trading ceased in 2016.
The council relied on evidence from the ACV listing tribunal decision to include the whole of the premises due to the physical and functional relationship between the residential accommodation and the pub in an area where affordable accommodation was scarce. The inspector noted that this decision did not, however, address the issue of viability. The appellants argued there was strong demand for ground and basement only lock-up pubs in London but the inspector noted the viability report also highlighted that a backstreet location without passing trade would limit its appeal to larger operators and loss of tied accommodation would make it difficult for a food-led pub to attract skilled catering staff. In this respect it was relevant that the previous licensee had found that demographic changes in the neighbourhood meant the business came to rely on the sale of food rather than drinks. The inspector concluded it was important to retain flexibility to allow options such as a food-based approach for future operators and the development conflicted with policies resisting the loss of valued public houses. She dismissed the appeal and upheld enforcement action.
Inspector: Debbie Moore; Written representations