Friday, October 28, 2016

Save the Ravensbourne Arms

As reported at Brockley Central and elsewhere, pub chain Antic is closing The Ravensbourne Arms in Lewisham High Street (near to the hospital), possibly as soon as this Sunday. The pub, formerly the Coach and Horses, was opened in its present incarnation in 2011. Its closure would be a great loss to the local area, it's always had a good crowd when I've been in there.

 Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence

Antic have previously announced that they are planning to re-open the Market Tavern pub, also on the High Street but nearer to the town centre (their website suggests that it may be renamed E&H Hadley), so they may have decided to focus their efforts on that.  There is also speculation that they are selling The Ravensbourne and fears that it may be converted into housing.  Land Registry records show that the building hasn't changed hands recently, though a sale may be imminent. - Antic has always been as much a player in the property market as a pub company. But the future use of the building is still very much up for grabs.

Antic secured planning permission for flats above the pub in 2015, but to convert the pub itself into housing would require planning permission for a change of use, and there are many reasons why this might not be granted. Unfortunately a change of use from a pub to a shop would not necessarily require planning permission (see this CAMRA briefing on the complexities of planning law in relation to pubs), though any structural alterations to create it probably would.  The most likely threat is of a retailer buying it and perhaps opening a mini-supermarket. This is happening all over the place, but it might be noted that Lewisham has bucked the trend of the seemingly unstoppable spread of these. For better or worse, the Tesco Express just down the road on Lewisham High Street closed recently after five years of operation, presumably because it wasn't making enough money. Unless they were thinking of moving down the road...

With current planning powers, it might be difficult for Lewisham Council to insist that a pub continues without Antic but they do have some influence over the future of the site - so get lobbying!

Update 4 November 2016:

The pub has closed, with Antic confirming last week: 'It is with sadness that we announce our leaving of the Ravensbourne Arms on Sunday the 30th October in advance of opening at our new home, EH Hadley, in central Lewisham in 2017'.

853 blog has lots more background, including on the planning issues

Here's a bit more historical detail about the building from the Heritage Statement submitted as part of the 2015 planning application: 'The Ravernsbourne Arms Public House is located on a corner block affronting Lewisham High Street, falling within the St Mary’s Conservation Area boundary. The site setting forms ‘Character Area 3’ of St Mary’s Conservation area... The area is characterised by its key civic buildings, urban street layouts and Victorian terraces with the key buildings affronting Lewisham High Street... The prominently situated public house building is not known to hold listed status. The construction is believed to have originated as a Georgian coaching inn but this construction is believed to have been badly damage in a fire and is thought to have been reconstructed during the early half of the 20th century'.

The building was included on Lewisham Council's 'Local List' in 2012,  with the report stating 'Whilst no additional statutory protection is provided to buildings on such a list, the list serves as a way of recognising the importance, in a local context of the buildings on the list, so that they can be properly considered when development proposals are submitted to the Council for determination'.

The listing report includes the following information:

'The Ravensbourne Arms, was built as the Coach and Horses in 1934. It is a substantial pub which occupies the plot between Legge Street and Romborough Way on Lewisham High Street. The principle elevation is Lewisham High Street but this building also addresses the streets to either side by continuing the pub frontage round either corner. This detail increases the impact on the streetscape of this building.

Made from red brick with plain clay tiled hipped roof it is in a simple domestic style with Arts and Crafts detailing. The ground floor is finished with small brown glazed tiles in a simple pattern and the motif of a coach and horses is included on the Legge Street corner. The building retains all of the original external detail including a dentiled course to the eaves, iron rainwater goods, windows but the former shop front from the off license, common in pubs has gone. It is easy to identify where it
was located by the timber panelling and its loss does not effect the significance of the building and the handsome contribution it makes towards the character of the townscape. This building meets the Local List criteria for local architectural and local historic interest'. 

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