More than 200 pubs have been converted to supermarket convenience stores over the past two years, ''ripping the hearts'' out of small communities, a new report revealed today.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) urged the Government to change planning laws which it said were allowing major supermarket chains and developers an ''easy route'' to demolishing or changing the use of pubs.
The campaign group said ''arcane'' planning law loopholes in England and Wales were rendering communities powerless in the fight to save their locals.
Since the beginning of 2010, a ''staggering'' 130 pubs have been converted into convenience stores by supermarket giant Tesco, and 22 by Sainsbury's, with a further 54 by other companies such as The Co-Operative, Asda and Costcutter, said Camra, with a further 45 pubs under threat of conversion across Britain.
Camra chief executive Mike Benner said: ''Weak and misguided planning laws and the predatory acquisition of valued pub sites by large supermarket chains, coupled with the willingness of pub owners to cash in and sell for development, are some of the biggest threats to the future of Britain's social fabric.
''For years, large supermarket chains have shown a disregard for the wellbeing of local communities, gutting much-loved former pubs in areas already bursting with supermarket stores.
''Pubs are being targeted for development by supermarket chains due to non-existent planning controls allowing supermarkets to ride roughshod over the wishes of the local community. At a time when 18 pubs are closing every week, this is damaging a great British institution.
''Unless action is taken by the Government to address obvious loopholes in planning legislation, more local communities will be forced to give up their local pub without a fight, and seeing the pub signs of Red Lions and Royal Oaks being corporately gratified over by supermarket empires will become an all too common sight.''
John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, said: ''Residents across the country are feeling powerless to intervene as local community pubs are being turned into convenience stores.
''Government needs to wake up to this looming crisis in the pub industry and look not only at planning laws that allow pubs to be converted so easily, but also at the cosy relationship between national retailers and large pub companies that so often leave local communities feeling left out in the cold.''
In his own constiuency, The Castle in Midanbury is being converted to a Tesco Express, as well as other Hampshire pubs including the Woodman in Lordswood and The Hampshire Yeoman Blackfield.