Thursday update: The pub has reportedly reopened this week. So if you’ve got a thirst on, pop in and see what it’s like, and let us know.
The Charlton Society has formally asked Greenwich Council to make the White Swan pub an asset of community value, days after the pub suddenly closed its doors once again.
A nomination form has been sent to Greenwich Council, together with a 110-name petition (88 online, 22 offline) to ask council officers to designate it a community asset, a legal process which would make it harder for the pub to be sold.
The council has also been asked to consider making a planning direction to ensure the current owners cannot change its use.
Greenwich Council officers will now study the application to decide if it is valid. If it is, a decision should take place within eight weeks.
If the council designates The White Swan an asset of community value, then if the building is sold for development, the local community will be asked if it wishes to put together a bid. If it does, then the sale will be put on hold for six months to allow a bid to be put together.
The Charlton Society acted after the pub shut its doors suddenly last weekend – with bar fonts and lights still switched on. Financial problems also continue at owner Punch Taverns, now £2 billion in debt. If you’ve not signed it yet, the petition stays open…
Here’s what the application to Greenwich Council says…
The White Swan is one of two pubs in Charlton Village, a distinctive retail and commercial area of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, with a unique history of its own. It’s both a local landmark and a heritage asset, and for many decades, it has served both the local community and customers from further afield heading to football matches at Charlton Athletic.
With the growth of tourism into the borough and London as a whole, the pub should have a bright future, with space above which could be used as rooms for visitors.
However, recent events have made us worry for the future of the building. In the past three months, the pub has been shut suddenly on two occasions for lengthy periods (in December 2013, and in February 2014 – it’s believed to have closed on 9 February and has not reopened).
Individuals have come forward to try to run the pub, but have found the financial demands from Punch Taverns (£43,000/year in rent) onerous. Punch itself is in financial trouble, owing over £2billion, which leads us to fear for the long-term future of the pub.
Yet there is interest in seeing the pub continue. A Facebook group, founded in December 2012, currently has 194 members. And in just two weeks, a petition lauched by the
Charlton Society has gathered 110 signatures (88 online plus 22 on paper) – with the vast majority of signatories coming from Charlton itself.
So, on behalf of the local community, the Charlton Society would like Greenwich Council to declare the White Swan an Asset of Community Value, to help safeguard its long-term future. We note that Greenwich Council’s core strategy supports the retention of pubs as a community resource, so we hope the council back this up by acting to protect the White Swan.
We would also ask Greenwich Council to consider making an Article 4 Direction to prevent a change of use to the building. This was used
successfully by Lewisham Council in April 2013 to prevent the Catford Bridge Tavern from becoming a supermarket.
In light of Punch Taverns’ financial problems, we hope you can act quickly on this to protect a valuable community resource for the people of Charlton.