Parliamentary debate to be held tomorrow over 'heritage pubs' following demise of the Crooked House
A debate is due to be held in parliament tomorrow to explore ways to step up protection for heritage pubs following the demise of the Crooked House.
Dudley North MP Marco Longhi has secured the House of Commons debate, which will take place in the afternoon.
He has also submitted his name in a ballot for a private member’s bill to protect heritage pubs, which will be introduced in a parliamentary session if it is successfully drawn.
It comes after the Crooked House in Himley, which was known as "Britain's wonkiest pub", burned down on August 5 and was totally demolished without permission two days later.
Mr Longhi said its demise had deeply affected the community – which has led to rallying calls to see it rebuilt – and better protection for heritage pubs was needed.
He said it was necessary to firstly define the characteristics of a heritage pub, to establish which buildings the extra protections proposed could apply to.
"Once we've found that definition, it should be a requirement for local authorities to hold and review on a yearly basis a register listing all heritage pubs," Mr Longhi said.
Council planning committees would then be able to identify which buildings may require additional protection before reaching decisions, making it more difficult to see them redeveloped for another use.
Mr Longhi added: "When a heritage pub is to be put on the open market for sale it should be widely advertised.
"Places are being bought and sold behind closed doors without them being advertised.
"They are sold to people with no intention of running them as a pub."
He said this would also make sure the community were aware in case a group wished to step in and apply for a building to be listed as an asset of community value, giving them the opportunity to raise funding and bid for the property before it is sold on the open market.
Mr Longhi has also suggested that only buyers who wish to run the heritage buildings as pubs should be allowed to make offers in the first year of them going on the market.
Other measures he wants to see put in force include giving a 'temporary listed status' to buildings being considered for listing purposes, and giving extra powers to local authorities so they are able to stop any development on land where there has been a suspected arson attack until an investigation is complete.
"What I'm trying to do is give these places a chance," Mr Longhi said.
He said he had also consulted with members of Campaign for Real Ale and Historic England.
Staffordshire Police is treating the fire which started at the Crooked House as arson.
To date, six people have been arrested in connection with the fire.
South Staffordshire Council is carrying out its own investigations.