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Stop supermarket pub conversions

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted February 06, 2014
two pubs
Under threat: Supermarkets continue to target pubs for conversion. (Check bottom for credit)

Two pubs a week killed by UK supermarket conversions; Tesco named as biggest culprit.

New figures released by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) reveal that 208 UK pubs were converted into supermarkets between January 1, 2012 and the end of last year.

This works out at an alarming rate of two pubs every week, with a CAMRA press release stating that the UK's supermarket chains stand "accused of specifically targeting pubs for redevelopment, often despite the outcry of local residents".

Conducted by CAMRA members across the UK, the research identified Tesco as "by far the most prolific" pub converter, having redeveloped 110 such premises in the past two years.

This figure is more than three times that of the second biggest culprit, Sainsbury's, which converted 29 pubs, ahead of the Co-op, which, while supposedly "part of a movement [that] backs community pub ownership", came 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," says CAMRA CEO Mike Benner.

"This behaviour shows a remarkable disregard for the wellbeing of communities that face losing their valued pubs – leaving local people powerless to step in."

According to the press release, "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 thus urging Downing Street to step in and close this loophole, enabling local communities to have a say in the future of their pubs before they are lost for good.

"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," Benner states.

Until then, CAMRA is encouraging communities to show their support for their locals by nominating them as Assets of Community Value (ACVs), a move that can help prevent the closure of a pub.

"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," Benner explains.

Sometimes, though, not even this is enough.

A case in point being the The Windmill in Sydenham, London, which, the press release notes, was lost due to the terms of a lease agreement that "sidestepped the protection the pub's ACV status provided".

"Over 300 pubs have now been listed as Assets of Community Value," Benner says, "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 supermarket 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."

To find out how to register your local as an ACV, click of this. Meanwhile, click here to see a full list of pubs that have gone the way of the dodo thanks to supermarket conversions.

See also List your local, save your pub, posted 13/4/13.

Picture credit

Top and thumb: Two pubs in Halfway House, near Shrewsbury by Anne. Please note that the picture used is for illustrative purposes only. As far as we know, neither or these two pubs has been (or is under specific threat of being) converted into a supermarket.

For licensing information click the above link.

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