Leaseholder now plans court battle
Controversial plans to alter the historic Brewery Tap pub in Wimbledon Village, involving the creation of two flats, have been given the go-ahead by councillors.
Owners Enterprise Inns put the original plans forward in December, involving a rear extension and conversion of the existing accommodation on the first and second floor. They submitted amended plans in February, involving building toilets in the basement.
Regulars at the Brewery Tap (left), run by resident managers John and Heather Grover for 15 years, have been running a campaign to keep the pub as it is and collected a petition with around 1,000 signatures.
The local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has also been campaigning against the plans, as they remove the existing manager's accommodation. CAMRA campaigners fear for the long-term future of a pub without a resident landlord.
Now Garry Mallen, son of the pub's leaseholder, said the next stage was to take Enterprise to court over the company's refusal to renew the lease.
He said: "The council's decision was disappointing, but we were fighting a losing battle. It is odd that 1,000 residents want the pub to be left the way it is, but the planners vote to do something different."
Mr Mallen said they had until the end of May to apply to the court to settle on the issue of Enterprise's decision to refuse to renew the lease.
"If I apply to the court it will take five months, then if they court says they can go ahead, they still have to give notice. Maybe then they will be bored with the project and move on," he added.
Geoff Strawbridge, Pubs Officer for CAMRA's South West London branch, said: "It saddens me that the whole planning system should still be so weighted in favour of the developer, however strongly the local community may be opposed to an application.
"People talk about 'sustainable communities' and 'localism'; Merton even has a strategic pub protection policy, surely all the more applicable in a local conservation area. Councillors on the Planning Committee have let us down very badly on this occasion. I can only hope that the leaseholder succeeds in his appeal."
A spokeswoman for Enterprise Inns said they had no update to add at this stage.
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April 18 , 2011