Localising Prosperity is a model for integrating community economic development into everyday business and understanding and building upon an area’s existing strengths so that it can develop from within – maximising the local economic and social benefits for all. This series of articles explores inspirational case studies from the UK and beyond, showing how public bodies, community organisations and private business have localised prosperity!

In this post we look at how Cambridge City Council has used planning policy to address concerns about the continued loss of public houses in the city and their conversion to residential properties. Motivated by a study which suggested that more than 20 pubs had been lost in the city over 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.

In 2014 The Council commissioned further 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. This guidance has been incorporated into the Cambridge Local Plan 2018

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.

You can find out more at http://localisingprosperity.org.uk/