Controls to limit pubs becoming shops could be on the way soon

PUBS around Bognor Regis could gain protection through planning rules.

Arun District Council is considering making sure the premises are subject to greater controls for the first time in its near 40 year history.

At present, the council is powerless to stop a pub being changed into a shop.

This has allowed Tesco to take on the former Rising Sun in North Bersted without the need for planning approval, to the alarm of nearby residents and small business owners.

A council spokeswoman said that situation might change when the council adopted its next blueprint for land use.

“It may be the case that planning policies may emerge in the current production of Arun’s local plan where a change of use away from a pub requires permission as its closure will be seen as having an unacceptable impact in terms of a community loss,” she said.

Tesco still needs approval from the council for a series of small-scale works to the building which it has sought.

The council spokeswoman said: “The current position in planning law is that a change of use from an A4 drinking establishment to an A1 retail use is permitted development and does not require the submission of a planning application.

“Therefore, the use of the building for A1 retail use by an operator, such as Tesco for example, is not something the council as a local planning authority has any consideration over.

“The only control is over external alterations/additions to the building where several applications have recently been submitted and are currently being advertised.”

Several pubs around Bognor Regis have closed in recent years but none has proved so controversial as the loss of the Rising Sun.

Tesco says its new Express convenience store, due to open on May 25, will provide a valued service. But residents and Bersted Parish Council have objected to the planning permissions which the company is seeking for the premises.