§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Tony McNulty)
In January 2002, the Government issued a consultation document on possible changes to the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order. Responses were to be received by 24 April 2002. We received over 2000 responses, which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has since been considering.
During the course of the Parliamentary debates that have taken place on the Licensing Bill, attention has been drawn to an issue on which we received many representations as part of the Use Classes review. There is widespread concern that the inclusion of pubs and bars with other uses such as restaurants and cafes in the A3 class is contributing to the increase in the number of licensed premises in some areas and that such changes in use do not require planning permission. I have considered these representations carefully and I am announcing today that it is our intention to change the Use Classes Order so as to put pubs and bars into a separate class. The effect of this change will be to require any proposal to change use of an existing building into a pub or bar to apply for planning permission.
I expect to make a full statement on the outcome of our consultation on proposals for changes to the Use Classes Order shortly.