Retailers’ plans to turn empty properties into profitable c-stores have become mired in red tape, a specialist property adviser has warned.

Christie + Co said new rules that allow properties to be listed as ‘assets of community value’ have scotched efforts to regenerate ailing high streets. In its survey of 500 c-stores and major grocers, it found 79 per cent of respondents want to convert other buildings into shops, but many faced opposition from planning processes and community groups. It said pubs, in particular, were difficult to turn into shops.

Steve Rodell, director and head of retail at Christie + Co, said the removal of such barriers to business would aid economic regeneration. He said: “It cannot be denied that c-stores bring added-community value where an unviable and closed pub cannot.

“C-stores bring jobs, a viable business and a service or product that current consumer spending habits tell us is much in demand.”

West Yorkshire retailer Serge Notay, who took on premises that had lain dormant for five years in 2011, called on the Government to help entrepreneurs open stores.

He said a review of rates and restrictions would bolster the economy. “The Government needs to look at the planning restrictions as there are a lot of empty units. Rateable values also need to be looked at, as do rents,” he said.

Mr Notay said that it took him some six years to find the right property but punitive council rates have devoured its profits. “I’m being penalised for setting up a new business,” he added.