Research conducted by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, shows that 2 pubs a week were converted to supermarkets during 2012 and 2013.
CAMRA say losing two pubs a week in this way is unacceptable and supermarkets are being accused of specifically targeting pubs for redevelopment, often despite the outcry of local residents who want the building to remain in business as a public house.
The figures, based on national research carried out by CAMRA’s members, identified 208 pubs which have been converted to supermarkets since January 2012. The research also shows that Tesco are by far the most prolific pub converters, with 110 in the last two years – that’s over three times more conversions than any other supermarket chain. Sainsbury’s are a distant second with 29 pub conversions and even The Co-operative, who are part of a movement which backs community pub ownership, come in at third with 23.
“The big supermarket chains appear to be targeting pubs for conversion, despite the fact that these pubs are often profitable and popular. This behaviour shows a remarkable disregard for the wellbeing of communities that face losing their valued pubs – leaving local people powerless to step in.” CAMRA Chief Executive Mike Benner.
A key reason pubs are being targeted by supermarket chains is that a loophole in planning law allows a pub to be converted to other uses, including a supermarket store, without planning permission. CAMRA is urging the Government to step in and close this loophole, so local communities would have a say before their pubs are lost. Mike added,
“Allowing pubs to be converted to supermarkets without planning permission is ludicrous, and something which the Government need to address as a matter of urgency.”
Until the planning loopholes are closed CAMRA is encouraging communities to show their support for their local by nominating them as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ (ACV), which can in some instances help prevent the closure of valued community pubs.
“ACV status means that should the pub be put up for sale the surrounding community can delay the sale, giving them breathing space to look at how the pub can be saved. Over 300 pubs have now been listed as Assets of Community Value, but much more needs to be done to protect pubs. At the very least the Government must act to ensure pubs that are listed as assets of community value can't be turned into a supermarkets overnight. It is outrageous that even valued pubs listed as ACVs are given virtually no protection from the clutches of the ever-expanding supermarket chains". Said Mike Benner.