Beer watchdog urges government to change planning laws to stop pubs being turned into supermarkets

More than 200 pubs have been converted to supermarket convenience stores over the past two years, 'ripping the hearts' out of small communities, a new report has revealed.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) urged the government to change planning laws which it said were allowing major supermarket chains and developers an 'easy route' to demolishing or changing the use of pubs.

The campaign group said 'arcane' planning law loopholes in England and Wales were rendering communities powerless in the fight to save their locals.

Since the beginning of 2010, a 'staggering' 130 pubs have been converted into convenience stores by supermarket giant Tesco, and 22 by Sainsbury's, with a further 54 by other companies such as The Co-Operative, Asda and Costcutter, said Camra.

They added that a further 45 pubs were under threat of conversion across Britain.

Camra chief executive Mike Benner said: '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. At a time when 18 pubs are closing every week, this is damaging a great British institution.'

The former Firs pub in Cromer Road, Hellesdon is one of many which have been converted into supermarkets. It opened as a Tesco Express store in April last year, after the pub closed the previous September. Built in 1933, the Firs pub was closely linked with the Firs Stadium which played host to the Norwich Stars speedway team and attracted tens of thousands of visitors every week.

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Tesco also opened a store at the site of another former city pub – the Dial – on the corner of Dereham Road and Old Palace Road last year.

And supermarket chain Aldi built a store on the site of the former Larkman pub more than a decade ago.

The Evening News has been urging people to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign.

to see more stories from the campaign visit