The power of the local
A unique facet of British life, pubs have played an important role in local communities for hundreds of years. Providing an informal setting in which people can meet and socialise, our local boozers foster friendships, ward off loneliness and are often the beating heart of the area.
Sadly, pubs across the country are closing at an alarming rate, threatening jobs, the fabric of the communities in which they are located, and the businesses which supply them.
The impact of pub closures
More than 2,000 pubs in Britain have closed since 2012, and 20,000 have closed since 1980. Crippled by high rents and decreasing footfall, many publicans have simply thrown in the towel, believing the customers they lost to the big coffee chains and contemporary bistros were gone for good.
The closures have meant the loss of cherished meeting places and venues for events. This would be bad enough without the serious impact to local economies. Pubs are often important clients of local suppliers and provide jobs for local people. Shops and other small businesses in the area loose custom when pubs close. House prices are also affected, as buyers are often looking for properties with amenities close by.
Research conducted by Oxford University and commissioned by Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) revealed that people with a good pub close to where they live are significantly happier and have more friends. And they are more likely to drink in moderation than to excess.
The role of city pubs
Pubs are certainly crucial to rural communities where residents and visitors alike may have nowhere else to eat, drink and socialise, but they are equally important aspects of city life. Londoners may benefit from seemingly limitless options across the capital and plenty of choice on their doorstep, but neighbourhood pubs can still prove fundamental to the social fabric of communities and their continued prosperity.
It’s little wonder that residents are now fighting back when the futures of their local public houses are threatened. In 2015, the Government resolved to give communities a greater say in the future of their local amenities.
The Community Right to Bid gave local people the ability to nominate the buildings and land which added most value to the local community. These were listed as assets of community value. More than 600 pubs were nominated, making them the most listed type of community asset. The listed establishments will be protected moving forward by a removal of the national permitted development rights for their change of use or demolition.
However, pubs can only survive if someone is prepared to run them.
Breathing new life into local pubs
Communities are clubbing together to rescue and resurrect their pubs. Wealthy investors are stepping into the breach to support pubs, having recognised their value to the local communities and their impact on property values. Stale and tired establishments are being rejuvenated by the introduction of real ales, craft beers, good bar snacks and food, and live entertainment.
With the right offering, pubs can win back their clientele, attract new customers and resume their place at the heart of the community.
The best pubs in Wimbledon
Wimbledon is an excellent example of how pubs can help an area thrive and how, in turn, the support of the locals enables pubs to prosper. There are many excellent pubs in Wimbledon which are well-supported by the residents.
Some of the best pubs are the Hand and Racquet, a great venue for live music where local ales are served. The atmospheric Crooked Billet is extremely popular and offers cask ales and friendly service. And if you want a traditional pub, you can’t beat the Rose & Crown.
A brighter future for community pubs
After several years of doom and gloom, the true value of community pubs has been recognised. Crucial to the happiness and prosperity of local people, pubs are being updated and reinvented. They are serving long-standing customers alongside a new generation for whom the pub remains the best place to meet, converse, and make friends.