The guidelines were drawn up in conjunction with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and apply to any new contracts with developers and property owners.
As well as pledging to develop pubs using the planning permission process, the Co-Op said it would respect the asset of community value status and would “not stand in the way” of any group seeking to acquire and run a community pub.
Steve Murrells, retail chief executive of The Co-op, said: “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.”
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.”
The full list of guidelines is as follows:
• 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 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.