The year is 2048. The clock strikes 5 o clock on a Friday and workers stream out of offices in central London to the capital’s numerous watering holes. But instead of colleagues and friends gathering within the cosy interiors of pubs, the hordes are amassed in bars. All the pubs will be long gone, consigned to the realm of sentimental memory.
This unspeakable horror is the future we face according to bleak new figures published by campaign group Camra.
The group is calling for the introduction of new laws to help preserve Britain’s pubs which have closed at the astonishing rate of 31 a week over the last six months.
There remain 54,490 pubs left in the UK. If the current rate of pub closures continues (and the rate was even higher following the recession), then we could expect to say goodbye to a defining characteristic of the UK by 2048.
Chief among Camra’s proposals is to create a law requiring a planning application to be granted before pubs can be demolished or converted for different use.
Currently pubs can be converted to make way for various different businesses, including supermarkets and convenience stores, without a planning application.
Camra head of communications Tom Stainer, said to the Guardian: “Popular and profitable pubs are being left vulnerable by gaps in English planning legislation as pubs are increasingly being targeted by those wishing to take advantage of the absence of proper planning control.
“It is utterly perverse that developers are able to demolish or convert a pub into a convenience store or many other uses without any requirement to apply for planning permission. It is wrong that communities are left powerless when a popular local pub is threatened with demolition or conversion into a Tesco store.”