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Public, local councillors prefer convenience stores over supermarkets

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Elected councillors and members of the public generally oppose the building of new supermarkets but are content with new local convenience stores, research has revealed.

The annual Di Tracker survey, led by political strategy consultancy Development Intelligence, found significantly more people would support a new local convenience store than a supermarket.

Researchers spoke to 2005 British adults and 400 local councillors as part of the survey.

Among the public, new supermarkets had a net approval rating of -23 while convenience food stores were more popular on +2.

Meanwhile, among local councillors new supermarkets were not as favoured. They gave them a net approval rating of -44 – only power stations and quarries were less popular.

The popularity difference between large-scale supermarkets and smaller convenience stores was even more significant among councillors, with a net approval rating of +6 for the latter.

According to the survey, both the public and councillors agree the two biggest reasons for opposing development of new supermarkets are the impact on traffic and the local community’s character. New homes and shops were their lowest priority.

Development Intelligence chief executive Nick Keable said the survey highlighted the challenge facing retail companies in securing both public and political support for new developments.

“Many councillors feel a blind duty to protect their town centre and often see supermarkets as a threat to them, regardless of the facts,” he said.

“With national political will supporting more large-scale housing development, it is inevitable that more retail space will be required, both small and large, to meet local people’s needs.

Keable said anyone involved with a development should do their research and understand the political and local climate before going public with their plans, as well as engage with stakeholders and address their concerns.

Published on Thursday 23 June by Elias Jahshan

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