Campaign to save region’s best loved pubs sparks 'outstanding’ response

Scores of pubs, some as far away as Newcastle, have been put forward for special protection in response to a West Midlands Combined Authority campaign to save cherished pubs from closure

The WMCA and the Campaign for Real Ale’s ‘List Your Local’ campaign has received more than 155 nominations despite an appeal to the public being issued just two weeks ago.  

The scheme has proved so popular that no less than 50 of the nominations have come from outside the West Midlands and several pubs received multiple nominations.  

It means there are  65 individual pubs now on the list. Of these 25 are considered so valuable they already have Historic England heritage listed status but the remaining 40 have no protection at all. 

The WMCA and CAMRA launched the campaign to better protect the region’s public houses in the wake of the fire and subsequent demolition of the famous Crooked House in Himley, Staffordshire.    

The ‘List Your Local’ campaign encourages residents to submit applications for Historic England and asset of community value listing.

The WMCA and CAMRA have drawn up a ‘target list’ of suitable heritage pubs, which, alongside the public’s recommendations, will be examined on a case-by-case basis to see if and how they can be protected. 

Options include heritage listing, asset of community value listing, or community ownership.  Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said:

“I am pleased to see submissions to protect the region’s most-loved pubs steadily growing. 

“I asked members of the public to get in touch because while we believe we have already identified some of the most at risk historical pubs in the region, we need to make sure we are helping to protect the right venues. 

“I am keen to not just protect these wonderfully historic buildings but also safeguard the heart and soul of our communities.” 

The campaign follows a report by the WMCA, due to be published soon, which will focus on the preservation of pubs in the West Midlands.  Seven recommendations have been highlighted in the report to save pubs from closure – either due to financial reasons or from developers closing pubs and redeveloping them for other uses. 

One of the recommendations includes an extension to the hospitality discount rate. Pubs currently benefit from a 75% discount on their business rate bills, capped at £110,000, but this is due to end in March 2024. Gary Timmins, director of CAMRA pub and club campaigns, added:

“To see the outstanding response from the public to protect their local in such a short timescale is testament to how important pubs are across the West Midlands.  

"This is the first step in our partnership with the WMCA to protect our pubs and work towards changes being made to planning legislation. Ultimately helping people to save their local and safeguard essential and valuable social community assets.    

"I would urge people to continue to submit information so we can continue to work towards a thriving pub scene, vital to communities across the region."   

As well as reviewing historical sites, the review by the WMCA and CAMRA also explores how local plans can be better utilised to protect pubs and to ensure those that are illegally shut down or demolished are rebuilt "brick by brick".

There are two forms of listings which are designed to augment pub protection status - Historic England listings and assets of community value listings.  Listings managed by Historic England, the agency that looks after the country’s historic environment, are protected by legislation.

Demolition or alterations of listed buildings without planning permission is subject to a two-year prison sentence or unlimited fine.  There are approximately 1,200 pubs in the WMCA geography, yet only 133 of them are on Historic England listings.


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