Pub news – September 2020

Academy, Notting Hill: this case illustrates how useful the planning rules can be (see page 19). There is some history here. The original owners, the Wellington Pub Company, disputed an application made to register the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) made by local community group, the Norland Conservation Society, but lost. The pub remained in use class A4, a pub with ancillary residential accommodation. Last year the current owners decided to use the first and second floors as a self-contained residential property and removed the staircase between the ground and first floors. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea issued an Enforcement Notice instructing them to reverse what they had done. They appealed to the Planning Inspectorate but not only was the Enforcement Notice upheld but retrospective planning permission for the illegal works was refused. Hopefully, now that the pub will have its living accommodation restored, it will be an attractive proposition for some enterprising publican.

Albert, Primrose Hill: this pub, an ACV, closed in 2014 and has been much missed by local residents. To their delight however, it was recently announced that, after some difficulties, Sam Moss and Michael Brothwell, who are also involved with the Haverstock Tavern in Belsize Park and the Leeds Brewery, had agreed a lease. The pub will operate as a free house, although some Leeds Brewery beers might feature. They are hoping to reopen the pub early in October. This is a triumph for local campaigners, including the Primrose Hill Community Association, who fought to stop the pub being converted to residential accommodation and its garden being built on. The full address is 11 Princess Road, NW1 8JR.

Greenwich Union, Greenwich: a local news website has reported that owners, Meantime Brewing, have decided that the pub, one of their outlets for nearly 20 years, will not reopen after the COVID lockdown. Prospective drinkers are being invited to use the brewery taproom at nearby Blackwall Lane. The company’s plans for the pub are not known.

Hero of Switzerland, Loughborough Junction: Planning permission has finally been given for the demolition of the pub and its replacement by a residential tower block. Lambeth council needed to refer the case to the Mayor of London because of the scale of the development. Happily, the plans include provision for a pub on the ground, basement and mezzanine floors but that is, of course, no guarantee as to what may eventually happen. The current pub was itself a replacement for one bombed out in World War Two. During the 1990s, it was a haunt of the ‘Young British Artist’ (YBA) movement, including Damien Hirst. The pub’s interior is unspoilt from the 1960s and is included on CAMRA’s inventory of pub interiors of regional importance. CAMRA’s South West London branch have requested that the mural on the outside and the pub sign, both of which feature William Tell, are preserved, along with at least one of the existing bars. The pub sign is the original pre-war one, which survived the bombs.

Marquis of Lansdowne, Stoke Newington: I have included this as an illustration of the current state of the pub trade. Following the conversion of its upper floors to self-contained residential accommodation, the pub (ground floor and basement) is being offered for lease, free-of-tie, at an annual rent of £90,000 per annum with a premium for the granting of the lease of £140,000. Given the current situation, you have to ask if this is realistic.

Royal Oak, Bethnal Green: Young’s acquired the freehold of this Grade II-listed pub, built for Truman’s Brewery in 1923, in 2013. They have now bought out the leasehold from the tenants, Goldcove ltd, and are running it as a managed house. The full address is 73 Columbia Road, E2 7RG.

Southall Conservative Club: sad to report that the club closed on 18 September, having become ‘unviable’. The building is a purpose built club, dating originally from 1913, extended in the 1930s and fully renovated in 2013. They premises are very well appointed and include a club room with a bar and kitchen and a large function room, also with a bar. There is also a snooker room, a conservatory and residential accommodation. They site has been put up for auction by the free-holders, the Association of Conservative Clubs, at a reserve price of £1.8 million. Let’s hope that the next owners will make use of these excellent facilities to the benefit of local people.

Southall Conservative Club

Stag, Battersea: this looks like a potential ‘Trojan horse’ case. The conversion of the upper floors to self-contained residential accommodation, as allowed in 2018 on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, has now been completed and the lock-up pub (ground floor and basement) is now on the market. Time will tell.

Trinity, Borough: Fuller’s have reopened the Trinity (formerly the Hole in the Wall) in Borough High Street (SE1 1JX) which they purchased in 2019. The pub has been substantially refurbished and an interesting new feature has been added. Until 1899 the pub was known as the St George’s Tavern and the then landlord, Edwin Brady, is reputed to have had a ‘Museum of Curiosities’ on the first floor. This room has now been brought back into use as a function room called the St George’s Room.

The Iron Duke, Great Yarmouth: not a London pub, obviously, but this is an important story. My source is the September edition of CAMRA’s newspaper, What’s Brewing. The Iron Duke is a quintessential Art Deco style pub built in the late 1930s for Lacon’s Brewery (closed by Whitbread in 1968) who were based in the seaside town. The pub was designed by their Chief Surveyor, A W Ecclestone. It takes its name from the battleship which served as Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s flagship at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and its bars are made from teak salvaged from the ship when it was broken up. The pub also features hand painted murals of the battle. The pub is currently owned by the holiday camp group Bourne Leisure (BL) who operate the adjacent Haven Holiday camp. The pub was very popular but, for obvious commercial reasons, BL did not want a pub next to their premises so they bought it in 2007 with, it is believed, the intention of demolishing it. A campaign group, called the Friends of the Iron Duke, was set up and they were instrumental in having it Grade II listed in 2017. BL appealed against the listing and lost. Historic England rate it as ‘nationally important’. The pub retains its original layout and its internal fixtures and fittings are all intact, although they are deteriorating all the while the pub remains boarded up. According to the Friends, “BL has repeatedly refused offers to sell, stating that it will not open the pub or sell it, and will oppose compulsory purchase, essentially blocking this historic pub’s future.” Now to the point. It is BL’s property and accordingly they have their rights but I would argue that the significance of the building also gives the public a stake in its future. No individual or company should be able to behave in this manner, just leaving a priceless building to rot, thus letting their stalling tactics win them the argument. The local authority should have the power to intervene and either return it, preferably, to its proper use or find an alternative way of preserving it. Sadly, I suspect however that the forthcoming revision of the planning laws will allow quite the opposite.
Compiled by Tony Hedger