Protecting pubs seems to be a matter of growing concern for London planning authorities and local communities.
Applications to register pubs as assets of community value appear to be on the rise, with the Campaign for Real Ale reporting in January that 1,200 pubs had already been listed.
In April, Maida Vale successfully took enforcement action to preserve the Carlton Tavern, which was demolished prior to listing and must now be re-built 'brick by brick'.
Last week, the London Borough of Wandsworth published a draft Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights from a number of active and closed pubs in the borough - in order to protect those that are currently trading and incentivise owners to bring closed pubs back into use.
All of which raises the following question: can the planning system actually prevent the closure of public houses?
It seems to me that the answer to this question has to be 'no'. Pubs are, after all, businesses. They will thrive and remain open when they are profitable and will close when they are not.
Removing the ability to move a redundant or closed pub into an alternative use, without planning permission, will not make any difference to the decision to shut or sell a business that simply isn't profitable. It will, however, ensure that vacant or redundant pubs remain closed for longer.
The real answers to keeping pubs open is likely to be found elsewhere - in the business model of the pub itself, the licensing decisions made by a local authority, or the government's approach to business rates.
Removing permitted development rights from pubs will not help keep them open. It will only make it harder for other uses to take their place when they close.
In its current form, the direction covers active pubs as well as a number that are currently closed in order to "give an added incentive to the owners to bring them back into use", the council said. Deputy council leader Jonathan Cook said: "We know how much our residents love their locals and in many cases they really are the epicenter of community life. "I’m proud and delighted we’ve found a way to protect them. "I very much hope that other councils will follow our lead by adopting pub-friendly planning policies and then stripping away permitted development rights from their local inns, bars and taverns. "This could be a real turning point for our nation’s superb but vulnerable pub trade and Wandsworth is more than ready to share its approach with other authorities."