Supermarkets and independent businesses could come together to protect the unique look and feel of the borough’s high streets under a new pledge.

Richmond Council’s local pledge, a first nationally, promotes communication between supermarket chains and independent retailers to discuss ways they can co-exist and accommodate each others' needs.

By committing to the pledge, the council hopes it will create a naturally acceptable and workable agreement on trading practices and shared actions to benefit the high street.

As part of the pledge, supermarkets wanting to open in or near high streets and shopping areas in the borough are encouraged to engage with local business representatives as early as possible in the stores the development process.

The pledge also requires chains to work with businesses on how they can complement them, engage in initiatives to promote shopping with independent retailers and maintain their engagement after opening.

Councillor Pamela Fleming, cabinet member for business, said: "Developing a strong understanding and positive dialogue between supermarkets and small businesses will be vital in maintaining the vitality and unique feeling of Richmond’s local high streets.

"This is about our local business community co-existing in a positive way and understanding each other’s needs and exploring how these needs can be accommodated."

The pledge, which seeks to promote fair competition, also encourages the borough’s traders’ representatives to engage with supermarkets to develop a positive dialogue.

Supermarkets which come through the planning system will be informed about the pledge and encouraged to take part.