A Private Members Bill proposing changes to permitted development rights received First Reading with all party support on 10 July 2012.
Second Reading is scheduled to take place on 26 October 2012.
The Bill seeks to require developers to obtain planning permission for the demolition or change of use of premises or land used as a public house or local independent shop, if such premises or land is be used for a supermarket and connected purposes.
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO) permits a change of use of a building to a use falling within Class A1 (shops) in the Use Classes Order from a use falling within Class A3 (restaurants and cafes), A4 (drinking establishments) or A5 (hot food takeaways).
It is therefore possible (and relatively commonplace) for such properties to be acquired and the use 'flipped' to retail without the need for planning permission for change of use.
The Bill was presented by Julian Huppert MP, who said, 'there are ever more chain shops and supermarkets, progressively turning every high street into a clone town, and those vital community hubs, the British pubs, are closing down across the country. It is vital that we keep and support our pubs and local independent shops; otherwise, we risk losing them for ever'.
The Bill is supported by the Campaign for Real Ale, which said 'the proposed Bill would go a long way to protecting local pubs and the communities they serve'.
The Bill proposes to introduce locally determined use classes as well as placing new constraints on flipping the use away from pubs. Essentially, it would be up to the local planning authority to determine whether to use the new constraint.
The time set aside for consideration of Private Members Bills is limited by Standing Order. This particular Bill was introduced under the Ten Minute Rule, which suggests it is not a serious attempt at legislation.
It is, however, an attempt to make a point on the need to change the law and test parliamentary opinion.
Given that the Bill has passed its First Reading with all party support, other MPs may seek to legislate on this in the near future via changes made to the GPDO or other secondary legislation.