Demolition of buildings is a complex legal area.

Historically, permission was not required to demolish detached buildings that were not listed or located within a conservation area.  This led to the demolition of many pubs without the opportunity to object.

In May 2017, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2017 came into force.  This removed all permitted development rights including demolition from pubs, meaning that planning consent is required in all cases in England before a pub can be demolished. The GPDO was amended again in September 2020 when pubs were made Sui Generis (in a class of their own) in planning terms in order to exclude them from proposed changes to permitted development in order to provide flexibility of commercial land uses in high streets and town centres impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. It has been confirmed by MHCLG officials that planning consent is still required for the demolition of pubs. Be aware however that there appears to be a drafting error in the order. We believe pubs should have been included in this list but instead are covered in the existing Class B of Part 11 of Schedule 2 of the amended 2015 order, albeit referred to as Use Class A4 and AA, both of which now longer exist! Planning can be horrendously complex sometimes.

Please note that planning is a devolved matter.  Protect Pubs was involved in the fight to gain this protection for pubs in England: in Scotland, permission was always required before demolition.  Regrettably, we’re not as well up on legislation in the devolved nations, so do check your local legislation for pubs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Additional protection for listed buildings

In addition to the legislation covering pubs, demolition of a listed building or a building within a conservation area requires a special planning application known as ‘listed building consent’. The case of the Carlton Tavern in Westminster gained national coverage when it was demolished without listing building consent, and the owner was ordered to rebuild the pub.

Derelict pub

Former Ship Aground, London