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Wed 30th Dec 2015 - Co-op becomes first retailer to commit to protect pubs
Co-op becomes first retailer to commit to protect pubs: The Co-op has become the first major retailer to commit to protecting Britain’s valued community locals by joining with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to develop a set of development principles for convenience stores on pub sites. The Co-op and CAMRA have jointly developed the guidelines, which highlight the importance to communities of retaining successful community pubs but also recognise that some locals close because of poor trading and cannot be retained in pub use. The principles do not relate to those pub sites where The Co-operative Group has existing legal arrangements but will cover any new contracts with developers and property owners that are entered into after 1 January 2016. The Co-op has stated that it will:

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

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

• Continue to individually assess each trading pub that it is offered as a lease or development opportunity to assess the pubs social value prior to an agreement to convert a site into a convenience store.

• Give further investigation to pubs with an Asset of Community Value (ACV) listing ahead of any decision to proceed with a lease or redevelopment.

• Make information public as soon as is possible about sites in which it is the developer (not lease holder), and it will encourage developers to do the same.

• Listen to the views of the local community – individuals, groups, including CAMRA branches, and local elected representatives and be willing to meet appropriate local representatives to discuss concerns.

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

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

• Talk to CAMRA when exceptional circumstances mean it may not be possible to fully adhere to these principles.

CAMRA’s chief executive Tim Page said: “We’re delighted that such a well-known retailer like the Co-op has demonstrated its commitment to communities and become the first to develop a set of principles to guide its store development with the needs and wishes of local people in mind. The Co-op clearly recognises the value that pubs add to the communities they serve and also the fact that supermarket developments can not 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, The Co-op, added: “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. We already assess the social value of a pub before entering into agreements to ensure we develop on sites where owners decide to close because of poor trading or which have ceased trading. 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.”

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