Tighter planning regulations under Labour could give local communities more power to stop pubs being converted into supermarket convenience stores.
Shadow Small Business Minister Toby Perkins has voiced his concern about the number of pub conversions and said Labour should consider how to solve this issue in its planning policy review.
[pull_quote_right]It’s one rule for supermarkets and another for the independents[/pull_quote_right]
According to research from the Campaign for Real Ale, since the end of 2012 Tesco has converted 130 pubs into small supermarkets, while The Co-operative Food recently signed a deal to convert 54 pubs into stores.
Independent retailer Sanjeev Bharathan experienced first hand the effects of such a takeover when a Tesco Express opened opposite his Costcutter store in North Kensington replacing the thriving boozer, which counted David Cameron as a regular customer.
He told Retail Express: “Since Tesco opened just over a year ago, our sales are down by 30%, and we’re not the only ones to be affected.
“It has broken the community and despite a demonstration, and more than 3,000 signatures on a petition, we were powerless to stop it.
“If it can happen in Cameron’s neighbourhood then it can happen to anyone. Local communities need more power so they can make their wishes respected.”
Bal Singh, pictured, who owns a Nisa Local store in Great Barr, Birmingham, said it is one rule for the supermarket chains and another for independents.
He said: “Pub conversions wouldn’t be so bad if local businesses were given the opportunity to expand into empty pubs, but it’s never the case.”
“Local retailers are always overlooked in favour of the big multiples. It’s not a level playing field.”