The Department of Local Government & Communities (DCLG) will launch a consultation into assets of com-munity value legislation before the end of the year, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA) understands.

A spokesperson from the department told the PMA it was informally seeking the views of organisations interested in ACVs ahead of a consultation, planned for the end of December.

Leading voices from across the trade have come together to demand clearer guidance from the Government on asset of community value (ACV) listings for pubs.

At an exclusive roundtable debate hosted by the PMA and Save the Pub Group last week, experts from both sides of the debate agreed that “wishy washy” guidance from the DCLG had been damaging for both pub owners and communities who wanted to list their locals.

The debate — held at ACV-listed and community-run pub the Antwerp Arms in Tottenham, north London — covered whether listings had been good for the sector and how the relatively new legislation could be improved.

Jim Cathcart, policy manager at the British Beer & Pub Association, argued: “We need a robust piece of guidance that lets community groups and property owners know exactly how the process works because, at

the moment, the guidance doesn’t separate out pubs.”

Gordon Stewart from the Plunkett Foundation, which supports co-operatives and social enterprises, added: “We’ve found the same issue; there’s been a light touch from the DCLG. It doesn’t help communities that local authorities are unclear and that the listing process is

very subjective.”

The listing of pubs has become a hot topic since the Government strengthened legislation earlier this year meaning planning permission is now required to change the use of, or demolish, a listed pub. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) subsequently launched a drive to list more than 3,000 pubs as ACVs, arguing that it protects licensees from closures and generates positive publicity. But others are less enthusiastic, claiming listings reduce pubs values and makes it difficult for owners to sell.

Pub heritage and planning consultant Dale Ingram said she had seen listings refused because communities were unaware of the evidence they needed to provide.

Save the Pub Group chair Greg Mulholland called for a separate listing system for pubs to clear up the confusion over existing legislation.

The MP has suggested a new ‘pub of community value’ status, where an existing pub must be marketed as a pub for six months, giving both community groups and smaller pubcos the chance to buy and run the venue. This way, pubs could only be demolished or converted after six months if no offer has been received.

He said: “I know of cases where a small pubco or brewery has tried to buy pubs from the larger pubcos but are refused because redevelopment brings more money.

“In many cases, it is small pub companies, entrepreneurs and small breweries who can and will buy and save pubs, rather than communities, some of which may struggle to raise the finance.”