Supermarkets sweep away community pubs, claims Camra

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Supermarket, Public house

Camra has called on the Government to introduce planning laws to protect local pubs from being closed in order to be sold to supermarket chains and property developers
Camra has called on the Government to introduce planning laws to protect local pubs from being closed in order to be sold to supermarket chains and property developers
The Campaign for Real Ale is calling on the Government to introduce changes to planning laws in order to prevent pubs from being sold to supermarket chains and property developers; a problem the organisation says is leading to one pub a week becoming a convenience store.

According to new research released this week by Camra, over 200 former British pubs have been lost to supermarket chains since the beginning of 2010.

Targeted

In a national pub conversion survey, carried out by Camra members, Tesco appears to have emerged as the biggest culprit in the war between convenience stores and the local pub - 130 have been converted into shops by the retail giant.

22 pubs are now home to Sainsbury's stores while a further 54 have been converted by other companies including The Co-Operative, Asda and Costcutter.

Camra is now calling on the Government to act as it argues supermarkets are targeting pubs and using planning law loopholes which allow the venues to be demolished or converted without planning permission.

"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," Mike Benner, the Camra chief executive, said.

"Unless action is taken by the Government to address obvious loopholes in planning legislation, more local communities will be forced to give up their local pub without a fight," he added.

Protected pubs

The call from Camra comes less than three weeks after campaigners similarly determined to use planning laws to protect local pubs from conversion or demolition received a double blow to their plans.

A Parliamentary Bill which would have prevented the change of use of local pubs failed to progress through the House of Commons, while the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) refused to back a consultation document approved by Cambridge City Council which holds the same aims.

A spokesperson for the association said the powers outlined in the consultation may not be legal and argued it could actually lead to more pub closures, not less.

However referring to the closure and sale to Tesco of The Castle pub in his Southampton Itchen constituency, John Denham MP said the Government did need to do more.

"Residents across the country are feeling powerless to intervene as local community pubs are being turned into convenience stores.

"The Government needs to wake up to this looming crisis in the pub industry and look not only at planning laws that allow pubs to be converted so easily, but also at the cosy relationship between national retailers and large pub companies that so often leave local communities feeling left out in the cold," he added.

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2 comments

Why are pubs closing?

Posted by Louise Stewart,

Rather than blame the supermarkets, perhaps we should be looking at why these pubs are closing in the first place. I can think of a few reasons:
Cheap supermarket beer, the smoking ban, health issues, changing fashions and taste, new pubs in the town centre, new restaurants such as Pizza Exprees and Prezzo. I doubt whether a pub owner has turned a property into a supermarket if it was sucessful as a pub.

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Which community do they serve

Posted by Anthony Zausmer,

I too am acutely aware of the number of pubs being bulldozed to make way for supermarket express stores - the first pub I did a relief management contract on is now a Tesco. Sadly, though, community pubs no longer have a community to serve - how ever well-intentioned the smoking ban was/is, it is the single most important factor in the demise of the "local" as we knew it, and the reason why supermarket off-sales are enjoying such a boom.

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