The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has urged other retailers to follow The Co-op’s lead in recognising the benefits of co-existing with pubs rather than riding roughshod over on-trade premises when developing convenience stores.
The Co-op has developed guidelines with Camra, which highlight the importance to communities of retaining successful community pubs but which also recognise that some locals cannot be kept because of poor trading.
The Co-op Group adopted the nine new principles from the start of the year and will cover any new contracts with developers and property owners it signs.
It has promised to listen to the views of the local community and interested parties and develop land next to existing pubs in a way that enhances the viability of both the new convenience store and the pub.
Another key point agreed is to seek to encourage developers to use the planning permission process rather than relying on permitted development rights to convert pubs into alternative uses.
The society has also agreed to continue to individually assess each trading pub that it is offered as a lease or development opportunity to look at the pub’s social value before agreeing to convert it into a convenience store.
Camra chief executive Tim Page said: “The Co-op clearly recognises the value that pubs add to the communities they serve and also the fact that supermarket developments cannot only co-exist alongside pubs, but that both benefit each other.
“We’d urge all retailers to be as forward-thinking and community-minded as The Co-op when it comes to planned developments which might have an impact on valued community locals.”
Steve Murrells, retail chief executive of The Co-op, said: “Pub closures are not on our agenda. Our new commitments for future store developments serve to highlight the importance we place on working with communities.
“Many of our new convenience stores have also been successfully developed in spaces adjacent to pub sites for the mutual success of both businesses. These principles strengthen our existing practices to give communities more of a say.”
Murrells added that The Co-op was a major supporter of real ale, selling scores of local beers in its stores, a policy it would seek to develop further in the future.