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.