Government urged to change planning laws to protect community pubs

A change in planning laws could help prevent the closure of many of Britain's pubs and help protect hospitality jobs in the sector, it has been suggested.

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has urged the government to review legal loopholes that currently allow supermarket chains and developers to demolish or convert local pubs without the need for planning permission.

It argues that the current state of affairs is "ripping the hearts out of small communities", with new research showing that since January 2010, over 200 pubs across Britain have been converted into supermarket stores.

Over the past three years, 130 pubs have been converted into convenience stores by supermarket giant Tesco, 22 by Sainsbury’s and a further 54 by other companies such as The Co-Operative, Asda and Costcutter.

"Pubs are being targeted for development by supermarket chains due to non-existent planning controls allowing supermarkets to ride roughshod over the wishes of the local community," said CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner.

"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, and seeing the pub signs of Red Lions and Royal Oaks being corporately graffitied over by supermarket empires will become an all too common sight."

Among those supporting the campaign is John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, who has seen pubs in his own constituency taken over by supermarket chains, the most recent example being The Castle, which was sold by pub company Enterprise Inns to Tesco.

"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 commented.

Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency to help source hospitality recruitment jobs