Charlton’s White Swan shuts its doors as property developer Mendoza takes charge

White Swan, 16 June 2015

5.20pm update: The plot thickens as we’re hearing the pub has opened its doors again… read on for how things stood this morning.

The White Swan pub in Charlton Village has closed, possibly for the last time, after its tenants were evicted on Monday.

Multiple reports on social media say bailiffs threw out the pub’s current managers and changed the locks. The building is now deserted, with a sign on the door asking staff to text their details to a telephone number.

The pub was sold by Punch Taverns in March, with Isle of Man-based property developer Mendoza Ltd picking it up for £900,000.

Mendoza specialises in building above licensed premises, a process which often makes them unviable. In 2012 it evicted the tenants running Lewisham gay bar Two8Six in a similar fashion.

The firm’s also been linked with the closure of the Grosvenor pub/venue in Stockwell through related company Golfrate, as well as its near neighbour The Beehive.

Over in north London, Mendoza and Golfrate doubled the rent on the Sovereign pub in Camden, reportedly leaving its 68-year-old landlord homeless. And in the east, TV presenter Stephen Mulhern was involved in a battle to save his brother’s pub, the Duke of Wellington in Spitalfields, earlier this year after Mendoza announced redevelopment plans.

Last year, Lewisham Council gave permission for extensions to the residential units above Two8Six – a new bar has appeared on the ground floor but doesn’t appear to have opened. Lambeth refused permission for flats above the Grosvenor in Stockwell, which now lies empty, but permitted development above the Beehive. Tower Hamlets has not yet taken a decision on the Duke of Wellington.

It certainly could be the end for the Swan as we know it – although there is the chance a smaller, quieter venue could emerge on the bottom floor, if Greenwich Council blocks any application to change its use.

The tight timescale and huge asking price meant it was always going to be a big, big ask for the community group which looked into saving the White Swan. But given Mendoza’s reputation, we can only assume the group’s sources were deliberately misled when they were told the pub was going to an existing operator.

Meanwhile, further along the village, the Bugle Horn is on the market for £1.5m, with a new manager determined to turn its fortunes around and keep it in business.

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Huge Charlton Sainsbury’s sign refused permission, huge Charlton Sainsbury’s sign appears anyway

Charlton Sainsbury's, 16 June 2015

A week to go until the new Charlton Sainsbury’s opens (9am on Wednesday 24 June, with M&S due to follow three weeks later), but there had been a set-back for the supermarket – Greenwich Council refused plans to stick a giant four-metre high illuminated logo on the store roof, along with a smaller sign by Bugsby’s Way and a totem facing Woolwich Road.

Council refusal letter

Except that this week… a giant four-metre high sign has appeared on the store roof, along with a smaller sign by Bugsby’s Way and a totem facing Woolwich Road.

Charlton Sainsbury's, 16 June 2014

Looks a bit like something’s dribbling out of the lettering…

No, we don’t know what’s happening either. Nor are we quite sure why the next door M&S also features a whacking great big sign (our best guess is it may not have needed permission as it’s partly below roof level). But we are trying to find out.

Greenwich Council's refusal

Of course, there are bigger issues with a whacking great big supermarket in a residential area – traffic, wasted space, and the building’s very existence when we desperately need new homes. But if the small things (such as a sign) can’t be fixed, what hope is there for the big things?

Thanks to Pete M for the tip-off.

4.20pm update: A very quick response from Greenwich Council, which says it has opened investigations into both the Sainsbury’s and M&S signage.

18 June update: Greenwich Council’s confirmed the M&S sign does have planning permission, given last December.

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Nine months to prove a new-look Bugle Horn can work. Charlton, can we save this historic pub?

The Bugle Horn: Come on in, the Harvey's Best Bitter is lovely

The Bugle Horn has new management determined to turn Charlton’s most famous old boozer around – but they don’t have long to prove themselves. With owners Punch Taverns already planning a sale, will the Charlton community rally round to save the pub?

The Charlton Champion sent a drinking party into the pub last night, and we’re pleased to report the changes have already begun. The England flags have gone, while the TV screens have been switched off – no more Sky Sports News on 24/7. Whisper it quietly – there’s a decent jukebox in there, and it’s currently free. And what’s even more welcome – the bar staff actually say hello to you when you come in.

Let’s be frank. The old Bugle wasn’t the most welcoming of places. We wish the old management well, but they made it clear that they saw themselves as managing decline. Strangers didn’t exactly get the warmest of welcomes either – one night after a Charlton home match, a couple of us watched as a customer was bawled out for the crime of asking for a pint of Coke. “We don’t serve Coke in pints here!” (He got his pint in the end.)

The old Bugle wasn’t a place you could take your pals. When we planned the old Charlton Champion meet-ups, it was with some embarrassment that we realised we honestly couldn’t use the two pubs in the village because they were so unwelcoming.

But all that’s changing. Forget the past. It’s safe to drink in the Bugle again.

Wasted space: This car park could become a farmers' market

New manager Stephen Ruffle’s come in with a brief to sharpen up the old pub’s act. He’s already done a good job of The Honor Oak in Forest Hill – a fine pub with a wide range of customers. Now he wants to see if he can do the same in Charlton.

But there isn’t long. The Charlton Champion has discovered that estate agents have been in, with Punch Taverns wanting to get the Bugle off its books. Effectively, there’s about nine months to turn the place around. If the Bugle is to stay as a pub, it needs support. So it needs you to drink in there.

To lure you inside, the kitchen’s getting a desperately-needed revamp. Once that’s done, the pub’s promising reasonably-priced, quality food.

Stephen’s also got plans for a quiz night, an open mic night and live music too. A pool table’s coming in – and the women’s darts team are coming back. Even better, he’s looking at using the car park at the back of the pub – an enormous wasted space – for a farmer’s market.

The Bugle’s got heaps of potential, and Stephen’s open to ideas – so pop in and say hello to him or Louis, who’s taking care of things day-today there.

If you’re one of those people who have grumbled about the lack of decent pubs in Charlton – well, now’s your chance to help create one. If buyers see a thriving pub, they’re more likely to keep it that way.

We’ll be doing our bit by having a Charlton Champion meet-up there soon – watch for the date. But in the meantime, if you’ve got a thirst on, you don’t have to schlep to Greenwich or Blackheath any more – it’s time to rediscover the Bugle.

You can follow the Bugle Horn on Twitter (@TheBugleHornPub) or on Facebook.

UPDATE, 16 June: The Bugle Horn is now on the market for £1.5 millon.

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Rival petitions do battle over Charlton skate park scheme

The skate park site in Charlton Park

The site of the planned skate park in Charlton Park is just to the right of here


Two rival petitions have been doing the rounds for a few weeks over the plans to build a skate park in Charlton Park. Let’s check in and see how they’re doing…

FOR: Show your support for the proposed skate park in Charlton Park: “As local parents, we think Charlton should embrace the exciting idea of having a skate park on its doorstep. The skate park has potential to be great fun for local children, teenagers, and adults as well as encouraging fitness and bringing together people of all ages.”605 supporters.

AGAINST: Skateboard Area: Consult Park Users Before Putting it in Charlton Park:“Local residents view Charlton Park as an oasis of calm at the community’s heart. This is threatened if we don’t do something soon about Greenwich Council’s plans for our Charlton Park to be the site of a skateboard area.”28 supporters.

A slam-dunk for the pro-skate park camp? Well, not quite, as the anti-skatepark lobby, which has adopted the name Friends of Charlton Park, has also been door-knocking in the Charlton Lane area. Looking at the “Friends” website, it all feels a bit like a re-run of the NOGOE campaign against the Olympics in Greenwich Park, where a handful of people generated a huge petition by telling visitors the old park would be destroyed by having horses run around it.

Charlton Park is an understated gem, but as one of the area’s best-known venues for Sunday football and other sports, it’s not exactly as tranquil as the petitioners claim it is.

Done properly, a skate park could be an enormous asset. But getting it done properly is the problem. And that doesn’t seem to be happening so far. The one thing both sides agree on is the lamentable lack of consultation by Greenwich Council on the scheme.

Link a skate park in with Charlton Athletic FC, the Charlton Park mini-gym and sports pitches, Meridian Sports Club (with Bridon Ropes FC and Meridian FC), Charlton Lido and the BMX track, plus Blackheath rugby club down the road, there’s potential for a real community built around sport and exercise.

But instead the whole skate park has been treated like a piece of dirt that has to be got off Berkeley Homes’ doorstep in Woolwich, and shoved up the road. Indeed, the council’s attitude to skaters is revealing – associated with the skate park is a plan for a bylaw to ban skateboarding in Woolwich’s General Gordon Square and other open spaces. If Greenwich Council is treating skateboarders in one part of its jurisdiction as criminals, it only has itself to blame if people in a neighbouring area become alarmed at their arrival.

Much of this taps into a wider, deeper malaise in how Greenwich Council relates to its residents that I normally write about elsewhere. But for now the Charlton Champion is considering joining in the petition fun. Titles under consideration include “Dear local councillors – why don’t you tell us what you’re doing about the proposals?”, “How about moving the Ed Stone up the hill from the Thames Barrier industrial estate to the skate park so we can all enjoy it?” and “We’d love a skate park in Charlton Park, but how about one in Eltham Park South too, so the council leader can have one at the end of her road?”.

But so far, the front-runner is: “We’re not that bothered about a skate park in our lovely sunny park, but if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it properly or we’ll hunt you down and build a rubbish one in your front garden, and then fill it with old people complaining about how young people are terrible.” What do you reckon?

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Valley House: ‘Poor doors’ lead to decision on controversial nine-storey block being deferred

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last. “Affordable” housing entrance not shown.


Greenwich councillors deferred a decision on controversial plans for a nine-storey block of flats on Woolwich Road at a meeting last night.

The Charlton Champion wasn’t at the meeting, but understands from those that were there that the decision to defer a decision was made because of plans to include “poor doors” – a separate entrance for residents living in the block’s “affordable” housing elements.

The block, at the junction of Gallions Road, is due to replace Valley House, a former council building and headquarters of Sykes Pumps, and sits opposite the Sainsbury’s/M&S development.

Just 18.9% of the accommodation was slated to be affordable, with all other residents able to use the building’s main entrance.

Three local groups – the Charlton Society, the Charlton Central Residents Association and the Greenwich Conservation Group – had objected to the building’s height.

From The Murky Depths puts the case for building high on the Woolwich Road here, as well as discussing a plan for more car parking on Bugsbys Way that was thrown out by councillors last week.

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‘The Essence of Love’ – latest production from The Alexandra Players

News of The Alexandra Players’ latest production:

THE ESSENCE OF LOVE

By Philip Ayckbourn; directed by Janet Denne

Thursday 28th, Friday 29th & Saturday 30th May 2015 – 8.00pm. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain up. The Alexandra Hall, Bramshot Avenue, SE7 7HY

A mother and her daughter; a father and his son find themselves on neighbouring hotel terraces in Marrakesh. Add in a local trader with something very potent up his sleeve, all kinds of mayhem ensue! A lively comedy-farce that takes a wry look at the madness of infatuation and what remains when passions have run their course.

Seats cost £9.00 each (£8.00 for concessions) and can be reserved online here, by texting the box office on 07867 627 987 or by sending an email to alexandraplayers@gmail.com.

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Weekend night buses for route 486, but cut planned for the N1

London Central VWL37 on N1
Charlton’s late-night stop-outs are set to get a weekend night service on bus route 486 when the Night Tube service starts this September, according to plans unveiled by Transport for London yesterday.

But weekend users of the existing N1 service face seeing their service cut from three buses an hour to just two, if TfL’s current scheme goes ahead.

TfL is altering the night bus network so it complements the Night Tube, which is due to begin on 12 September.

At least six trains per hour will run in the small hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings across the Jubilee Line, with night services introduced on routes 132 and 486 to serve passengers at North Greenwich alongside current 24-hour routes 108, 188 and 472.

The 486 will get a half-hourly service across its full route through Greenwich Millennium Village, Charlton, Shooters Hill and out to Bexleyheath.

But route N1, the existing night service linking Tottenham Court Road with Deptford, Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich, Plumstead and Thamesmead, will be less frequent at weekends.

It currently runs two buses an hour on weeknights and three at weekends. This will drop to two under the plan, which also sees it run via Evelyn Street in Deptford rather than serving the Pepys Estate, which gets a new N199 service.

Presumably TfL feels fewer people will use the N1 once the Night Tube begins, but the bus still picks up large numbers of people outside the West End, particularly at Elephant and Castle. The cut also penalises shift workers who will still depend on the service running in the other direction.

There are no changes planned to the area’s other night routes, the 24-hour 53 to Plumstead and the N89 to Erith.

One trick that Transport for London may have missed is in route 132, which is due to run fast via the Blackwall Tunnel approach to the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout – as it does during the day – rather than via Westcombe Hill and Blackheath Standard, which would make it more useful to many passengers from Charlton and Blackheath.

To see the full proposals and to comment, visit Transport for London’s website.

Photo: London Central VWL37 on N1 – © John King

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