Spar store owner Bill Bains has become the latest retailer to breath life back into a community by opening a convenience store on a derelict pub site.

Bill turned the former pub in Bestwood Park, Nottingham, into a 3,000sq ft store without the plans being referred to the local planning committee as no change of use was required.

The once rundown site is now the hub of the neighbourhood. "When I bought the pub it had been closed for two years and was a complete mess," he said. "Now there is a modern store with an off licence and car park that customers are delighted with."

Property specialists Christie & Co, who helped in the sale of the site, said that renovating closed pubs into convenience stores benefited communities. "Rather than being another closed business, it can become the heart of the local shopping community," said spokesman Paul Shepherd. "We have always seen a healthy interest from retailers regarding pubs designated for alternative use, but the recent increase in pub closures has led to further enquiries and opportunities across the country."

A British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) survey found that 2,365 pubs closed in 2009, although the current rate of closure has declined from a peak of 52 a week a year ago.

Supermarket chains are also targeting the same sites, threatening the trade of nearby independent retailers. Store owners in Rhoose, South Glamorgan, have lashed out over Tesco's plan to redevelop a former pub site in the area, with residents organising a petition against the plans.

In Oxford, a similar application was turned down by the local council on the grounds that it would not be an "efficient use of the land".

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