Pubs closing down across Sheffield are killing local social venues for communities, say industry bosses who are calling for a change to planning laws to protect community watering holes.
A total of 46 pubs have shut in the city since 2010, with Darnall, Walkley and Shiregreen the hardest hit, according to figures obtained by The Star in a Freedom of Information Act request.
But it is not all doom and gloom for the Sheffield pub trade with the rise of the real ale market and the success of ‘pub hubs’ in areas like Kelham Island and Heeley.
Pubs which have closed include The Sportsman on Oldfield Road, Stannington. An application was put in to Sheffield Council in October 2014 to convert the site to a Tesco Express. The Royal Hotel in Walkley, The Wellington on Staniforth Road, Darnall, and The Vine Inn on Sheffield Road have all shut.
A planning application was submitted in January to turn The Arbourthorne Hotel on Errington Road, Arbourthorne, into social housing for Sanctuary.
CAMRA’s Mike Rose said: “These pubs provide social support to a lot of people, a lot of the time to lonely people who, if their pub closes, will lose that support.
“The planning laws now make it easy to change use of a pub into a supermarket.”
Dr Tim Stillman, co-director of Sheffield Brewery, said shifting demographics could explain some of the changes – but also laid blame at the door of big pub firms. He said: “As a former local Real Ale guide editor I’m appalled by the loss of our true local pubs, I know of at least 50 that I have drank in and are sadly no more.
“Some pubs will inevitably go by the wayside where they were once at the centre of thriving industry and are now isolated or now at the centre of ethnic community who simply do not drink.
“Pubs are often sold to developers for conversion to flats or supermarkets or completely demolished as new build sites.
“Often restrictive covenants are placed on these pubs to stop local residents or entrepreneurs keeping them open as pubs.
“Perhaps city planners need to look at this.”
Barrie Bellamy, from High Green Community Action Team, said the area has been hit hard by closures.
He said: “In High Green in the last four years there has been six closures, including The Rose Inn, Salutation, The Market Inn, The Cart & Horses and The Thorncliffe Social Club.
“It’s having a big impact – including a social impact. The Cart & Horses used to host six social clubs.
“The Market Inn, less than 50 metres from the Cart & Horses, has closed to make way for 14 houses.
“That’s going to have an impact on traffic. It has an impact on jobs too. The Cart & Horses had eight people working there who have all lost their jobs. It comes down to money.”
Pub industry figures also say big pub firms take advantage of landlords by locking them into contracts and raising the price of beer.
Mike Rose said: “Pub companies tie landlords into contracts and then force them to buy beer at inflated prices.
“The trade-off is supposed to be that their rent is cheaper, but it’s not cheap enough to balance that.
“Landlords are being forced by pub companies to raise the price of the beer higher than the man on the street can afford to pay,” he added.