Lewisham Council has been urged to strengthen planning policy around pub conversions amid concerns property developers see boozers as “easy targets.”

This comes after the number of pubs in the borough has decreased by 50 per cent since the early 2000s.

Speaking at a sustainable development committee, pub protection officer at the Campaign for Real Ale, Neil Pettigrew, said while the borough had a strong pub policy, it could be made stronger.

“We recognise Lewisham has a strong pub protection policy at the moment but we would like to see it made much stronger, particularly because property developers feel pubs are an easy target.

“An example which has cropped up recently in Forest Hill is the All In One pub.

“It is a popular pub used by the community, lots of meeting and clubs meet there. A property developer walked in, made an offer on the premises and submitted an application,” he explained.

“What we would like to see is stronger policies to make it clear to property developers that they will not get permission to demolish pubs or to change them to residential use. That would be our main objective,” he added.

This comes after the council undertook a review of the circumstances impacting pubs.

Anyone who wishes to change a pub to any other use needs a full planning application submission.

Lewisham Council officer David Syme said there were a number of policies to protect pubs in the draft London Plan, including making sure any development in a pub does not compromise its future.

The committee will consider the recommendations made at their next meeting.