30 May 2017

Councillors object to latest plan to turn popular Grosvenor pub into flats

Local councillors and residents have begun lodging objections to the latest plans from developers to turn the site of a local community pub into flats.

The Grosvenor Arms on Sidney Road has been closed for over 18 months after being bought by a developer who has attempted several times to turn part or all of the building into residential accommodation. This is despite the former pub being a profitable, well liked venue that was one of the few in Brixton still to host live music from local acts.

Following a campaign from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), local residents and councillors, parts of the building were designated as an Asset of Community Value, which helps protect it from future changes.  However, the upper floors were not included meaning they can be subject to development, which could effect the long term use of the building. The full objection submitted to Lambeth council's planning department from local councillor Paul Gadsby on behalf of Vassall councillors (with the support of Annie Gallop and Jacqui Dyer) can be read below.

Cllr Gadsby added:
"It really does feel like we are stuck in a time loop here - the developers keep coming back with the same arguments and thankfully for the moment Lambeth have, to their credit, kept knocking them back. However, it is important residents keep the pressure on so I would urge anyone interested in this venue to submit their thoughts here. As for the developers I really would ask them to do want many in the community want and return the venue to its historic use as a community pub."
Full objection to Grosvenor Arms pub planning application

As a local councillor in the area I have for several years with residents and colleagues been objecting to plans to convert the Grosvenor site away from its traditional function as public house - and this application is sadly yet another attempt by developers along a course that is unpopular, ill-conceived and fundamentally wrong. 

As stated in previous objections, the Grosvenor has for many years been a well-run community pub that was one of the few active venues in this part of Brixton to still host live music from local acts. There were no complaints from residents about noise partly as this was always under several different landlords a pub that maintained good relations with local people and indeed attempted to get them involved in its activities. At a time when these kind of establishments are closing throughout Lambeth and in London, it is important that we continue to protect these venues. 

These arguments have been recognised by the council and legally during a successful community asset campaign organised by residents, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and with the support of many local councillors. This designation now protects the basement and the ground floor of the building. I appreciate that the current proposals are only for the upper floors, but the substantial changes planned in this application will in effect make the return to use of the building as a pub unviable (and the current plans are a well-worn tactic used by developers in other parts of London to displace pub use from an entire building). 

Converting these parts of the building into flats will mean:

  • Occupants of the flats will understandably raise objections to a pub being reinstalled underneath them at a later date, especially as the current design places bedrooms directly over the main pub area. Provisions for sound proofing do not appear in anyway adequate.
  • Partly related to the above, future landlords are unlikely to wish to invest in a pub business owing to the potential for noise complaints from above the main areas of use of the public house.     
  • The removal of the upstairs floors from their connection with the lower floor’s use as a public house also makes it more difficult for future managers and their staff to have accommodation on site, which is often the standard practice for publicans. This once again will deter the viability of the return of the site to a public house.

·      My recommendation is that this application is rejected by Lambeth and that the developers realise that their best option for this site is to seek for it to return to its use as a local, community run public house.