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Bell Pub - demolition

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Saturday 22 October 2011 3.17pm
is anyone else sad about this? An attractive historic building being demolished to be replaced by bland flats. There are plenty of converted pub schemes in the area that at least preserve the building for the whole community to enjoy. anyone know why the planning committee wouldn't request a scheme that incorporates the historic building in an imaginative way?

It's a uniquely historic area, yet it's becoming so characterless. this building in particular seems so out of place - 118 Southwark Bridge Road -


The Bell Pub has survived for over a hundred years, and if looked after, will stand for a hundred more. this type of new building has a life span of 70years. it's short-term thinking and the community who suffers.

would anyone be interested in starting a campaigning group to look out for and save historic buildings in SE1 and to ask for a more imaginative planning dept who demand better schemes for the area? it's not against development but asking for better quality ideas that preserve and enhance the area's character

also a group who document the area's special sites before they disappear?

buildings due for demolition include - the Bell pub and also the Great Eastern Railway building on Tooley Street, the Paper Moon on Blackfriars Rd. anyone know of others?

already gone - Valentine Row, warehouses on Baron's Place, the Victorian terrace row at the top of webber street and southwark high street, anyone know of others?
Saturday 22 October 2011 4.08pm
Yes, it seems a wasted opportunity to have at least kept the frontage and set additional storeys a few feet back, so the preserved elements retain a coherence almost no matter what's above.

But that of course would not meet developers' usual goal of maximising internal square footage.

I see from that the planning committee vote was 4-2. Would just one person going the other way have kept the status quo? And can this still be overturned by the full council? Or is there now in any event a sense that LBS is nodding much more through than before, because it all brings in revenue?
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.
Saturday 22 October 2011 10.03pm
The BVAG is actively trying to preserve the character of the area and promotes sympathetic redevelopment. Perhaps go and have a chat with them at the office that has just opened on Crucifix Lane.
Saturday 22 October 2011 10.32pm
Much as I'd love for no more pubs to close, it's not often that saving an old building and rescuing a failing business can be done all in one.

The Bell was clearly dying on its feet the couple of times I dropped by since moving in round the corner less than two years ago. And without a big passing footfall, these backstreet (or to use a more positive word, neighbourhood) pubs have a harder time than others even if they try to reinvent themselves.

Which the Bell evidently hadn't. Nor would its immediate environs make me think it worth doing so either.

Let's accept first that the entire history of Borough has involved repurposing (as well as knocking down and reconstructing) a "built environment" that mixes a varying portion of residential with the commercial demands of the day.

The pubs that remain viable (having been given the necessary tweaks towards food, airiness and suchlike) are as a result now mainly to be found on the bigger local streets. And let's face it, in SE1 those are seldom that far away.

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