The consumer organisation has responded to news that brewer and pub operator Marston’s revealed it has disposed of 202 pubs for £90m to NewRiver Retail Limited, a specialist real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on the UK food and value retail sector.
Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, said: “This pub sell off is bad news for communities which may lose their pubs as a result. New River Retail have seriously underestimated the challenges and opposition that they will face in trying to sell profitable community pubs and convert them into convenience stores and other uses.
"Local residents and pub campaigners will be mounting sustained opposition to prevent their valued local pub being converted into a supermarket. With one in 10 high street shops empty it makes no sense that retailers are targeting pubs.
"Our message to New River Retail is that they should be focused on reviving existing retail spaces rather than seeking to destroy valued community pubs serving local communities and we call on them to take every step to sell pubs as going concerns.”
He blamed the “dyfunctional planning system” for pubs being regarded as “easy pickings” by developers.
“No one can convincingly argue that supermarkets provide a similar community amenity to a local pub. CAMRA will be using this development to press home the case for tougher planning protection for pubs and for greater consumer consultation when they are threatened with alternative use.”
Under the terms of the transaction Marston’s will manage the pubs for five years in return for a management fee. For the first four years Marston’s has provided a minimum income guarantee.