Sir Jim Paice MP has expressed disappointment that the conversion of the Pear Tree pub in Hildersham into a German furniture shop is set to go ahead.
Currently, pubs may be converted into shops without the need for planning permission as they are within the same class in terms of planning law.
The Pear Tree was recently listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) on October 15.
However, the ACV designation has no effect where planning permission is not required.
Hildersham residents have campaigned for SCDC to issue an Article 4 Direction, which would make the conversion subject to planning permission, and had formed SToPiT – Save The Pear Tree.
SCDC decided at last Wednesday’s (January 8) planning committee SCDC decided that it could not prevent the change as the building’s use remained retail.
SCDC now plans to lobby Government to close the planning loophole.
Speaking shortly after hearing that the planning committee had decided not to use its Article 4 powers, the South East Cambridgeshire MP said: “In my view, local pubs play an important role in community life.
“I was therefore disappointed to hear that, despite the considerable efforts of Hildersham residents, the council has refused to act to save the Pear Tree.
“The Government’s community empowerment agenda, of which ACVs form a part, is intended to increase protection for important local amenities such as the Pear Tree.
“The whole point of localism is to enable local people to have their say.
“In this case, the residents of Hildersham made their view clear but were ignored.”
Mark Logan, chairman of SToPiT, said: “The council could have done something but chose not to as there could have been an appeal and they could have been open to a compensation claim.”
However, SCDC maintain that they could not have stopped the change as it has already happened and that Sir Jim is mistaken.
“An Article Four Directive would not have stopped it as it is already a shop in planning terms,” said a SCDC spokesman.
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (January 16) Echo.
Are SCDC right? No it is not ‘already a shop in planning terms’ it is a separate use class which the GPDO grants permitted development rights to change to (A1) and that can be withdrawn. Elementary error. It is a different issue over whether it is rioght to grant an A4d given the looming PD rights change and whether this would attract major compensation claims. But in any event an A4d would take a year during which time any change could go ahead.