The percentage of pubs selling for alternative use has nearly doubled since 2009, according to figures from property agent Savills, writes Gurjit Degun. Out of the 40 pubs it has sold so far this year, Savills said 60% went for change of use. Last year, 54.5% did not stay as pubs. In 2010, Savills found that 52.5% sold for alternative use, and in 2009, the figure was 32.2%. The agent said that the majority of those sold for alternative use went for residential use or became convenience stores. Kevin Marsh, head of leisure at Savills, put the trend down to access to finance easing for property developers. He also predicted that the alternative-use trend would continue. “As we have emerged from difficulties in funding since 2008, there is more money out there for property developers,” explained Marsh. “The pubs are selling to small local developers who are back in the market to start buying again. “In my opinion, the local pub will remain under a lot of pressure in terms of viability, so there will be a decline in numbers. The rising trend in pubs selling for alternative use will continue because of this. “It is good news for pub owners because they know that there is a demand for their property.” He explained that local authorities’ planning guidance to protect pubs has also been a factor in holding up sales for alternative use. For example, some councils require a pub to be marketed for 12 months before it agrees on permission for any planning change of use. Most recently, Cambridge City Council introduced an interim planning policy guidance. This asks applicants to give evidence that diversification options have been explored, to prove that it is not economically viable to retain the pub, and to show that the community does not need it.