Campaigners call for action on supermarket pub conversions

More than 200 pubs have been converted into supermarket convenience stores in the past two years due to 'weak and misguided planning laws', according to a campaign group.

CAMRA wants planning laws to protect pubs
CAMRA wants planning laws to protect pubs

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said the conversions were "ripping the hearts out of small communities" and urged the government to change planning laws to protect pub buildings.

According to CAMRA, planning loopholes in England and Wales allow pubs to be demolished or converted into convenience stores without the need for planning permission. The campaign group said this leaves communities "powerless in the fight to save their locals".

Based on a national pub conversion survey carried out by its members, it found that since January 2010, 130 pubs have been converted into convenience stores by supermarket giant Tesco, 22 by Sainsbury’s and a further 54 by other companies including the Co-Operative, Asda and Costcutter.

According to CAMRA, a further 45 pub buildings across Britain are believed to be under threat of a similar conversion.

Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, said: "Weak and misguided planning laws and the predatory acquisition of valued pub sites by large supermarket chains, coupled with the willingness of pub owners to cash-in and sell for development, are some of the biggest threats to the future of Britain’s social fabric.

"For years, large supermarket chains have shown a disregard for the wellbeing of local communities, gutting much-loved former pubs in areas already bursting with supermarket stores."

Benner called on the government to address the "obvious loopholes in planning legislation" otherwise "more local communities will be forced to give up their local pub without a fight".  

John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, added: "Residents across the country are feeling powerless to intervene as local community pubs are being turned into convenience stores."

Denham said the government needed to look not only at planning laws that allow pubs to be converted, but also at "the cosy relationship between national retailers and large pub companies".

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