Developers Working On Landmark Pub

Could a supermarket be on its way?

The historic Grove Tavern in South Wimbledon, which closed last month, could be being converted into a supermarket.

The 19th century pub, which is opposite South Wimbledon tube on the junction of Kingston Road and Morden Road, was a popular music and comedy venue.

Earlier this year, developers were refused permission to demolish the landmark building (left) and replace it with a three-storey structure including a ground floor retail unit and nine flats.

But it was bought by a mystery owner and then closed on March 6. Immediately afterwards, the bar was removed.

It has since been more securely boarded up and developers were on site last week, clearing debris and internal partitions.

Rumours abound that it is being converted into a supermarket, with development work to start in the next two to three weeks. Local shopkeepers, thought to be fearing for the future of their businesses, are awaiting official confirmation.

A change of use from a pub to a supermarket would not require planning permission or local consultation, but the character and struture of the building would have to be maintained.

Geoff Strawbridge, Local South West London CAMRA Pubs Officer said: "Planning law in the shape of the Use Classes Order 2010 is widely recognized as deficient in allowing local communities no opportunity for consultation when owners want simply to convert a pub into an office or a shop.

"The Coalition Government is alienating the electorate for so long as it allows this loophole to persist. Local people can boycott the new supermarket when it arrives, but that is too late. I am sure that Merton’s Planning Department shares their anger and frustration."

Local Councillor Henry Nelless said: "I'm very sorry to see another pub close and am disturbed to hear rumours that another supermarket may be coming to the area, especially given the proximity of the Tesco Express on Merton Road and the recent application for a Sainsburys opposite the Grove Tavern site on Kingston Road.

"Local residents and businesses have been working with Councillor Diane Neil Mills and I to make Kingston Road a destination in its own right, not an identikit high street. I hope that the rumours aren't true and that there still might be a future for a good, well run pub at the Grove Tavern. I will do what I can to make sure that this happens."

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April 6, 2012