London mayor Boris Johnson has encouraged councils to do all they can to protect pubs following pressure from a Sutton and Croydon politician.

The role pubs play in communities has been recognised for the first in Mr Johnson's latest London plan based on recommendation's made in a report penned by Sutton and Croydon's Greater London Authority member Steve O'Connell.

Croydon Guardian: Boris Johnson and Steve O'Connell on the campaign trail

Boris Johnson and Steve O'Connell

Mr Johnson's plan calls on councils to do all they can to maintain and enhance pubs to avoid seeing them close down.

Mr O'Connell has welcomed the move but has called on the mayor to go further by doing more to stop pubs from being converted to other uses if there is a need in the area.

Mr O'Connell said: "The fact that pubs are mentioned for the first time in the London plan is an important milestone, following my recent report, Keeping Local.

"I welcome the Mayor’s commitment to help boroughs protect valued pubs from being lost, where it is possible to do so. Now we must strengthen this protection further.

"I would especially like to see a requirement for robust market testing for empty pub sites before any redevelopment can be considered.

"This means a potential developer would have to prove that they’ve marketed the site to prospective landlords for a reasonable amount of time, before planning permission can be considered for a new development such as housing. 

"I would also like to see other strict criteria such as the need to demonstrate the pub has been vacant for at least two years, ensuring the character of the street scene is not detrimentally affected, and ensuring significant features of historic value are retained."

Roger Molyneux, director of the Hoop pub in Carshalton, said: "The local pub is a vital part of any community, even for people that don’t use it. It is a place where people can congregate safely, and can help rid our streets of anti-social drinking and drunken violence in public places.

"Pubs need all the protection they can get, and therefore it is great to see things progressing."