Further protection for rebuilt pub

Published: Friday 14th December 18

The Alchemist, which the council ordered to be rebuilt after it was unlawfully demolished, must remain a pub, planners ruled this week.

It was knocked down without planning permission in the summer of 2015 – prompting the council to issue the developer with an enforcement notice requiring him to rebuild it brick-by-brick. The rebuild was completed this summer.

The Alchemist after its demolition and following its rebuild

In October its owners applied for planning permission to use it as a shop, office or food establishment. This week planners rejected the application, ruling that the change of use would “result in the loss of a public house of historic and community value.”

The pub, in the St John’s Hill Grove conservation area, was formerly known as the Fishmonger’s Arms and dates back to the late nineteenth century.

Strategic planning spokesman  Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This pub is an integral part of the conservation area and a valuable local community facility. Wandsworth is determined to protect our neighbourhood pubs and we will look carefully at all change of use applications in the light of this policy.”

The Alchemist is protected by an Article 4 Direction. In 2016 Wandsworth was the first local authority in the UK to use Article 4 Directions to protect its most important pubs from redevelopment.

It means changes to borough pubs have to go through the planning process, rather than being automatically allowed under ‘permitted development’ rules. This means they can no longer be converted into other venues, such as mini-supermarkets, without the need for planning permission.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that Wandsworth has lost far fewer pubs than neighbouring boroughs, with the Campaign For Real Ale arguing that the council’s pubs policy ‘gives out a very clear message’ to potential developers that turning pubs into shops or homes is unlikely to be permitted.

In all, 120 Wandsworth pubs have been protected by Article 4 Directions.  As well as the Alchemist, they include The Alma, The Ship and The Cat’s Back in Wandsworth, The Bricklayers Arms and Arab Boy in Putney, The Plough, Falcon and The Beehive in Battersea, The Selkirk, Trafalgar Arms and Wheatsheaf in Tooting and the Bedford and Regent in Balham.

Find out more at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/article4

The councll's celebrating pub life in Wandsworth on Instagram and twitter. Share your images with the hashtag #lovepubswandsworth.

How Wandsworth compares to neighbouring boroughs


 Pubs lost since 2001

 Percentage fall

 Jobs provided
 Wandsworth  15  10%  2,000 (up 33.3%)
 Merton  30  40%  600 (down 25%)
 Kensington & Chelsea  30  21%  1,250 (no change)
 Kingston  35  37%  900 (no change)
 Lambeth  45  24%  2,000 (up 60%)
 Hammersmith & Fulham  45  31%  1,250 (down 16.7%)
 Richmond  45  28%  1,500 (no change)
 Westminster  85  17%  6,000 (up 20%)

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Recent comments

Thank you Wandsworth for standing firm of abusers of the planning system. These developers were so mercenary to have knocked down such an historic building (new-build being generally less expensive than conversion) thinking that if it was already gone, nothing would be done about it and they'd be able to change use as a consequence of it no longer suiting being a pub. It now stays as a pub - and actually there aren't many pubs vs cafes/restaurants, along that road. This will be a good deterrent to others, hopefully.

15 December 2018

This location is a terrible location for a pub. There has been so many failed attempts. Redesignation makes sense but this is has become too tempting for the council to use as a continued PR coup. 1) to show Developers that the law must be followed 2) that Wandsworth are protecting pubs. It's time to stop this and Please do the right thing and Let the 'market' decide what works in this location. It's not a pub for sure!

15 December 2018

Council are being very strict. Why not a coffee shop? We’re all being encouraged to drink less alcohol. You just know a pub will never work in that location.

15 December 2018

Good news.Good to see the importance value recognised that a Pub has for the community. Its a shame Social clubs eg Tooting Constitutional Club were not given the the same protection. Will now be destroyed to a Hotel and the Historic indoor london skittle alley lost plus outdoor bowels area too.
Philip Manners

15 December 2018

As a local resident i can see why the developers have asked permission for a different use to the venue. It just does not work as a pub anymore. Whenever its been used as a pub its had to close down as nobody goes that far up st John's hill to go to a pub. It doesn't matter that it was a pub in the 19th century. It might have been busy years back but it will always fail as a pub and thats not fair on the owners. The place should be converted into housing for local people or would the council prefer it to stand empty

14 December 2018

Relating to protecting pubs, you might be interested in this sad video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP06t3RB_Xo

14 December 2018