Pub protection scheme explained: How you can save local pubs in Birmingham after Crooked House fire

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WMCA and CAMRA are drawing up a ‘target list’ of heritage pubs to protect - and you can help to nominate bars to look after

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have joined forces in the wake of the Crooked House fire and demolition to review pubs of historical importance in the West Midlands, including Birmingham, to ensure that they are protected.

WMCA and CAMRA are drawing up a ‘target list’ of heritage pubs to protect which will be examined on a case-by-case basis. One of the pubs identified is The New Inn, in Erdington, amid fears from regulars that it could be sold from developers - although the landlords have since advised this is not the case.

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Crooked House after demolition (Photo - Trevor Beattie)Crooked House after demolition (Photo - Trevor Beattie)
Crooked House after demolition (Photo - Trevor Beattie) | Trevor Beattie

How Birmingham pub goers can help save heritage bars?

Pub lovers can have a say in the initiative - called List Your Local - with residents being encouraged to submit details of the pubs they believe are of historical significance to the region. This can be done through the WMCA’s website. These pubs will also be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to find ways to protect them.

How will WMCA and CAMRA’s scheme protect heritage pubs?

According to WMCA and CAMRA’s plans pubs can be on the heritage listing, asset of community value listing, or community ownership.

Heritage listing managed by Historic England are protected in legislation. Demolition or alteration of listed buildings without planning permission is subject to a two-year prison sentence or unlimited fine. There are 1,200 pubs in the WMCA area of which 133 of them are on Historic England listings.

An asset of community value, defined as locations which have a ‘main use or purpose of furthering the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community, and could do so into the future’ allows community organisations to have the first option to purchase the asset if put up for sale. Only three pubs in the WMCA area are listed on the asset of community value register – with none in Birmingham, Dudley, Solihull, or Wolverhampton.

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WMCA & CAMRA launch new scheme to protect pubs in Birmingham (Photo - Pajaros Volando - stock.adobe.com)WMCA & CAMRA launch new scheme to protect pubs in Birmingham (Photo - Pajaros Volando - stock.adobe.com)
WMCA & CAMRA launch new scheme to protect pubs in Birmingham (Photo - Pajaros Volando - stock.adobe.com) | Pajaros Volando - stock.adobe.com

The WMCA and CAMRA’s are also reviewing how local plans can be better utilised to protect pubs, as well as recommending 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.

What Mayor of West Midlands Andy Street said about protecting pubs

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “Protecting our local pubs isn’t just about preserving bricks and mortar; it’s about safeguarding the heart and soul of our communities. That’s why we’ve teamed up with CAMRA to take action in the wake of the Crooked House case to ensure we do not see a repeat of a beloved pub being put at risk of being consigned to history.

“We believe we have already identified some of the most at-risk historical pubs in the region, but we need people to make their recommendations to us to ensure we are helping to protect the right venues.”

The Crooked House pub in Himley, StaffordshireThe Crooked House pub in Himley, Staffordshire
The Crooked House pub in Himley, Staffordshire | SWNS

What CAMRA said about protecting pubs in the West Midlands

Gary Timmins, director of CAMRA pub & club campaigns, added:“The complete destruction of the iconic Crooked House pub has brought a nationwide scandal to the forefront of people’s minds.

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“Developers continue to flout the rules with pubs routinely converted or demolished without permissions in place, denying people the chance to save their local. Community assets need support if they are to survive and thrive against a backdrop of rising costs.

“CAMRA believes it is vital that local venues are marketed as going concerns and everything possible is done to secure their future as community pubs. We are also campaigning to give councils more powers to save and reinstate pubs after the Crooked House incident and call on the government to use the Autumn Budget Statement to extend vital help with business rates.”

What WMCA’s night-time economy advisor said about protecting pubs

Alex Claridge, the WMCA’s night-time economy advisor, said: “The entirely justified reaction of both local people and those across the country and the world to the loss of the Crooked House is testament to the deep cultural and emotional relevance of pubs and hospitality more to so very many of us.

From L-R: Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, and Alex Claridge, WMCA’s night-time economy advisor. (Photo - WMCA)From L-R: Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, and Alex Claridge, WMCA’s night-time economy advisor. (Photo - WMCA)
From L-R: Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, and Alex Claridge, WMCA’s night-time economy advisor. (Photo - WMCA) | WMCA

“Whilst we will continue to apply pressure where we can to ensure a happy ending for the Crooked House, I’m committed to using that passion, energy and attention to extend the legacy of The Crooked House far and wide - starting with protecting unique pubs all over the region.

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“Whether it’s demolition, unscrupulous development, predatory energy companies or continued neglect at a policy level, these are perilous times indeed for heritage pubs.”There are two forms of listings which are designed to provide pub protection status – one is under Historic England, the agency that looks after the country’s historic environment, and the other is the ‘assets of community value’ listing.

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