Pub-to-store policy revolution

Exterior of the new Co-operative Food store, Aspull
Exterior of the new Co-operative Food store, Aspull

COULD fewer of Wigan’s struggling and closed-down pubs be turned into convenience stores?

That was the question being asked today after the Co-op signed the pledge! One that could see it enter the market for pub conversions than of yore in recognition of hostelries’ community importance.

The number of ale houses in the borough - as is the case in most other parts of the country - has reduced drastically in recent years and social habits change and supermarkets undercut over-the-bar prices.

And some of those locals are now mini-markets.

Tesco has taken over several borough pubs, including the Lady Bowes-Lyon on Gidlow Lane and The Alexandra at Whelley.

The former Oak Tree Root in Atherton is these days a Costcutter and it is only recently that the Co-op itself took over what used to be Aspull Village Club.

But Co-op has now 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 principles for convenience store developments on pub sites.

These include:

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

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

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

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

l 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;

l Listen to the views of the local community.