Saturday 22 October 2011 8.06pm
Hi Hetty, yes I am very interested - I have been involved in a campaign to save the Crown Pub in Brandon St, SE17 (see picture here
) which is an unusual Wenlock Ales tiled Victorian pub and very original inside.
But I don't think that we or our councillors have much power in this area at present in Southwark. In the case of the Crown the council actually refused the application (we had good local and councillor support and there were lots of objections), but the developers appealed, and the Inspector allowed it after a hearing, largely because he judged the planning grounds on which the decision was made not to be underpinned by serious policy:
a) Southwark has taken a over a year making a "local list" of buildings of local value, including pubs like the Crown but this is not even close to being of any value in planning application terms. But might be, in a year or 2, but that'll be too late for pubs in this area. And pubs are very hard to get listed on the national list - insides are difficult to get into, and landlords are not keen to let it happen, and listing often takes interior and exterior condition into account, as well as "uniqueness".
b) Southwark's core strategy, and previous Southwark Plan, does makes no specific mention of pubs at all
- ignoring their community and historic value. This is unlike Lambeth, which does have a supportive policy (although I can't find a link at the moment - the core strategy comes up "file not found" on Lambeth's website!)
In the case of the Crown, the inspector even allowed the developer to extend the new building onto land zoned as "Other Open Space" describing this as a technical detail and not important! He also dismissed any sense that the pub could be viable, and the developer thoughtfully closed it as soon as he could to help demonstrate this.
I think that getting the value of pubs into local planning documents (SPDs, AAPs etc) is crucial and probably the best step that can be taken - without this we are powerless against the developers. I imagine this will need discussions with local planners and lobbying at consultations etc.
East Walworth now has five pubs left, down from at least twenty-five 15 years ago, with about 10 going in the last couple of years alone. Many developers (and the one about to knock down the Crown) do this for a living - they get early notice of sale from Punch Taverns, and know that they can demolish anything that is not listed without any constraints at all at the moment. And I know that a number of councillors are fed up at their powerlessess against this destruction of Southwark's heritage.