If you’re planning a trip to England, you’d be remiss if you didn’t stop at least one pub. It’s an indelible part of the country’s culture; as Samuel Pepys famously put it, pubs are the heart of England itself.
England has been awash with pubs for well over a thousand years, but for the past century or so their numbers have slowly been in decline. Still, England does love its pubs, so it’s no wonder that when the chance to protect the remaining few from demolition came about, a lot of communities quickly sprang to action.
This chance came in the form of the 2011 Localism Act, which decreed that properties considered “assets of community value” (ACV) would be subject to protection from development. To this day, pubs make up a vast majority of the ACVs in England, with about 860 listed as of late 2015.
Of course, pubs aren’t the only things considered to be ACVs. Parks, nature reserves, and libraries are among the more common. There are a few outliers, though, the ones that you probably wouldn’t expect to be ACVs. Here are a few of them.
A bingo hall – Just like pubs, bingo halls are on a slow decline thanks to stiff competition from online gaming sites that let people play everything from bingo to live roulette and baccarat games without leaving home. The Gala Bingo Club, Tooting, however, is more than just some ordinary bingo hall. It used to be the Granada Tooting cinema, considered by many to be the most spectacular art deco cinema in all of Britain.
A piece of open land – Not a park, not a nature reserve – just a parcel of open land. Located in Rushmere St. Andrew, the land has been used as a community garden, an apiary, and even a memorial for departed loved ones. The land, however, has recently had its ACV status stripped on appeal.
A public toilet – In December 2014, a Penge community group successfully managed to get public toilets classed as ACVs. They’re not the very first things that enter our minds of when we think “community value”, but ask someone who desperately needs to pee and they’ll probably tell you that public toilets are the very definition of the term.