Charlton’s White Swan campaign winds down – is the pub now safe?

White Swan, Charlton, 12 December 2013/ Nikki Coates
The campaign to save Charlton Village’s White Swan is winding down after it emerged the venue is likely to stay in use as a pub after it is sold to new owners.

The pub’s future has been in question for some time after protracted efforts by its owner, Punch Taverns, to sell the building.

It was declared an asset of community value last March. Punch confirmed its intention to sell the building in October, triggering a six-month period for community groups to register their interest.

The Save The White Swan group was formed to investigate ways of buying the pub – a tough ask with the pub on the market for £950,000. But it has decided to wind down its operations after being assured the Swan will be kept in use after its sale. The buyer is believed to be a pub company, but the sale cannot go through until after the asset of community value moratorium ends on 23 March.

“We decided that we couldn’t in good faith go ahead with a campaign asking people to stump up hundreds and thousands of pounds if the White Swan wasn’t actually, for now, at risk,” the campaign’s Paul Chapman wrote on its website.

“The money we needed to raise was always going to be a record-breaking sum, at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch financially… and the near-certainty of the Swan remaining a pub made it impossible.”

Charlton’s pub-watchers will now need to stay vigilant and keep an eye on what happens next with the Swan, and hope that the interest generated in the pub – sparked by a Facebook group calling for Woolwich Equitable owner Antic to take over – will convince a new owner to give it a much-needed revamp.

Similarly, the future of the village’s oldest pub, the Bugle Horn, will also need watching. The Bugle – which is also owned by Punch Taverns – does not have the same ACV protection as the Swan, while its management has been unhappy about the attention focused on its neighbour.

It’s worth pointing out that Greenwich Council could do a lot to secure the future of both venues by putting Article 4 directions on them, preventing a change of use. That’s a tactic which eventually worked in Catford, when Lewisham Council stopped the Catford Bridge Tavern from becoming a supermarket. New owners are hoping to reopen it later this year.

While a lot remains uncertain, the campaign group certainly deserves a pat on the back for keeping the issue in the public eye and picking up the baton from the Charlton Society‘s original decision to try to protect the pub. Greenwich Council’s deputy leader John Fahy also deserves thanks for using his contacts to bring interested parties together.

The campaign group also deserves credit for battling on, despite the stress caused by a former manager of the pub’s attempt to start a rival campaign, which solicited for donations to his own private account (something the official campaign wasn’t doing).

Hopefully they won’t be forced to reconvene to try to save another pub – but who knows?

2 thoughts on “Charlton’s White Swan campaign winds down – is the pub now safe?

  1. vridaochskrika February 8, 2015 / 16:09

    Why are they waiting for the Asset of Community Value order to end if they are planning to keep it open as a pub?

  2. Paul C February 9, 2015 / 11:48

    My understanding is that the ACV, if triggered, gives a community group 6 months to get a viable bid together. That 6 months is binding, there is no mechanism – that I know of anyway – for a community group to then say ‘actually, we’ve decided not to bid, carry on’. Presumably as there could be more than one group and how do you decide if they are definitely not trying to get bid together etc etc.

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