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The future of London’s pubs

London's pubs have been changing, as well as disappearing, for some time. This paper looks at the role that pubs play in our communities and what they need to survive the pandemic and beyond.

London’s pubs are loved by Londoners and visitors to the capital. They’re at the heart of London’s communities and play an underappreciated social role; connecting people through a shared space. But London’s pubs have been disappearing for some time, even before the pandemic. And since last year, many have struggled to adapt to changing guidance, particularly those in the city centre which are wet-led or don’t have outdoor space.

Community ownership can help to save under-threat pubs from vanishing or being repurposed but London and national government need to do more to help community groups to purchase them.

To help London’s pubs survive, recover, and thrive in the future:

  • National government should convert the ‘community right to bid’ to a ‘community right to buy’, including through the new Community Ownership Fund.
  • London government should play a matchmaking role, helping to connect community groups who want to take ownership of their under-threat pub with potential tenants who could run it.
  • National government should continue to require full planning permission for pubs, to avoid permanently losing any which might be viable in the future.
  • London government should explore the potential to require more in-depth assessments of a pub’s potential viability before permitting a change of use or demolition.

This paper is the result of desk-based research, a series of interviews, and the findings of a roundtable event, supported by Power to Change, which brought together publicans, practitioners, and local government officials.