Two8Six, Lewisham's only gay pub, is boarded up. More than a hundred people attended a public meeting to oppose the closure last month (26 Oct) at Lewisham Town Hall, organised by Lewisham LGBTQ+ Community Involvement Group. According to Pink News (1 Nov. 2012):
'Hundreds of residents in the London Borough of Lewisham are fighting to restore a popular gay pub. The Two8Six venue, on Lewisham High Street, was recently shut after the offshore property firm, Mendoza Limited and their management company Golfrate Limited, forced the closure of the pub by sending in bailiffs and changing the locks. At an LGBT community meeting last week, Stephen Thompson, the former licensee of Two8Six, said: “[Golfrate] are claiming that they took this action because I owed them rent when in reality it was because I refused to surrender the upper floors of the building and evict my staff from their homes... This pub has been closed, not because it isn’t profitable, but because an offshore property developer with no connection or concern for Lewisham, wants to make money out of the land value of the pub and placed unreasonable demands on my business including raising the rent from £38k to £60k.”'
|photo by Ewan-M at Flickr|
Catford Bridge Tavern
Hundreds of people have filed objections to planning permission for a plan to close the popular Catford Bridge Tavern, SE6 (formerly the Copperfield) and replace it with a supermarket. The plan highlights the complexity of who makes decisions about the future of pubs. The pub is run by Antic, who have a Tenancy at Will from Punch Taverns, who lease it from DVS Property Ltd. The latter have submitted the planning application to Lewisham Council.
A Lewisham Council report earlier this year reported that the number of pubs in Lewisham fell to 92 in 2011 from 145 in 2001.
Meanwhile in Woolwich, local blogs such as 853 have been campaigning against the decision of Greenwich Council to refuse planning permission for Antic (who run Royal Albert in New Cross as well as Catford Bridge Tavern) to open a new pub, The Woolwich, in the town centre. A revised planning application has been submitted and early signs are that it may have more success.
Brixton: George IV and Hootenanny
In Brixton campaigns are being waged in relation to two of my old locals from when I lived over there. Over 100 people attended a public meeting about plans to replace the George IV pub on Brixton Hill with a Tesco Express. The once popular music pub played host to early Basement Jaxx nights, not to mention me dancing to Northern Soul, but has been empty for a while. A couple of weeks ago the building was squatted by opponents of the plan.
A petition has also been launched (signed by 2500 people so far) against restrictive licensing conditions at Hootenanny on Effra Road. The music and drinking venue opens until 3 am, but are being told they cannot admit anybody until after 11 pm. The owners say that they may have to close unless these restrictions are lifted. The venue has been a late night place for decades, in its previous incarnations as the Hobgoblin and George Canning.
Some good news in relation to another pub and music venue, the Ivy House in Nunhead. The pub closed earlier this year and had been put up for auction last month by the property developer who bought the building from its previous owners, Enterprise Inns. However, campaigners have successfully lobbied Southwark Council to have the building listed as an 'asset of community value' under the new Localism Act. This doesn't mean the pub has definitely been saved, but it will make it harder for the building to be used for other purposes as 'The fact that it is on the list will be treated as a 'material consideration' for planning purposes. This means that it should be taken into account by the Council in deciding a planning application (including for change of use) or an appeal against a planning decision' (see article by campaigner Tessa Blunden in The Guardian). If nothing else the decision buys time for campaigners to come up with alternative plans to get the place up and running again.
New Cross Inn
The New Cross Inn (SE14) is up for sale. Christie + Co state that it 'has been instructed to obtain bids for a substantial freehold investment in London. The New Cross Inn is a distinctive building with Victorian features including a domed turret and arched windows. It is in a prominent position between New Cross and New Cross Gate stations.The investment is split into two distinct businesses and has recently undergone an overhaul with capital expenditure of £80,000. There is a ground floor and basement live music bar with a 10-year free-of-tie lease and a current rental income of £36,000. The upper floors are presently operated as a hostel with 80 beds, a 10-year lease and a rental income of £60,000. Christie + Co is inviting bids for the freehold investment with a guide of £1,200,000'. There doesn't appear to any immediate any direct threat to the pub's future, but longer term that may depend on the interests and intentions of whoever ends up buying the building.