Co-op pledges to seek planning approval before turning pubs into shops

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A SMALL victory has been won in the campaign to stop pubs being turned into shops without the need for any permission.

The Co-operative has become the first major retailer to commit to protecting local boozers by coming up with a set of principles pledging not to convert any without first gaining approval of councils – and leaving those well valued by communities alone.

While the strategy does not cover sites where the Co-op already has existing legal arrangements, it applies to any new deals with developers and property owners entered into from this month on.

The Co-op has stated in its strategy to:

n Only develop pub sites using the planning permission process rather than relying on permitted development rights.

n Seek to encourage developers to use the planning permission process rather than relying on permitted development rights to convert pubs into alternative uses.

n Individually assess each pub that is regarded as a development opportunity to determine the value it has on the community

n Make information public as soon as is possible about sites where it is the developer and encourage developers to do the same.

n Not stand in the way of a any group seeking to acquire and run a community pub.

n Develop land adjacent to an existing pub in a way that enhances the viability of both a new store and the existing pub.

Tim Page, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: ‘We’re delighted that such a well-known retailer like the Co-op has demonstrated its commitment to communities.’