Labour has set its sights on giving more power to communities to determine whether local pubs can be converted into grocery stores, shadow small business minister Toby Perkins has revealed.

In a wide-ranging interview with C-Store, Perkins said he wanted local authorities and communities to have more say over planning decisions centring on pub conversions. A number of independent retailers have spoken out against the growing trend in light of competition concerns.

“One of the things I’ve been very conscious of is the number of pubs that have been taken over and turned into supermarkets,” he said. “That can happen without the community having any say. I think people will accept it if the pub isn’t being used, but if a successful pub is being taken over because the building’s worth more as a supermarket, then that does pose a challenge to us as a society and it’s exactly the sort of thing our review into planning policy ought to consider.”

Research from the Campaign for Real Ale found that Tesco converted 130 pubs into c-stores between 2010 and the end of 2012. The Co-operative Food recently signed a deal to convert 54 pub sites into convenience stores from the Marston’s pub portfolio.

Perkins also reiterated Labour’s plans to cut business rates and to improve small businesses’ access to finance, should it be elected to government next year. He set out plans for a network of local banks which would ensure “local bank managers make local decisions and have a relationship with small businesses”.

For full interview, click here.