White Swan freeholder Mendoza plans two houses at back of revived pub

Mendoza homes on White Swan land
The new homes are set back from Torrance Close, overlooking the pub’s beer garden

The company that owns the freehold to revamped Charlton pub the White Swan has applied for planning permission to build two 3-bedroom houses on part of its beer garden.

Isle of Man-based Mendoza Ltd, which makes its money buying pubs and bars and putting residential developments on the sites, plans to build the homes at the back of the garden and on disused land facing onto Torrance Close, the access road at the rear of The Village.

The strikingly-designed homes would be set back from Torrance Close, overlooking the rest of the pub’s garden.

Mendoza’s application comes just seven weeks after the once-troubled pub was reopened by the team behind the Pelton Arms, who have taken on a new lease on the bar and the accommodation upstairs.

Without the rooms upstairs, it was always likely Mendoza would have its eye on the garden and the disused space at the rear. Documents submitted with the planning application state the company was in discussion with Greenwich Council about work on both the rear of the site and the pub’s upstairs floors, including a new roof.

“The applicant believes that as the public house is in the process of being considered to be added to the list of locally listed buildings and is a much beloved part of the current street scene, it is more beneficial to the local architectural and community’s character to allow more time and consideration before a planning submission is made for the White Swan,” a letter from Bermondsey-based architects Milan Babic says. Milan Babic’s website showcases how it converted the upstairs rooms of the former Brixton pub Brady’s – now a branch of Wahaca – into residential accomodation.

While approving the development would hopefully provide some financial security over the pub’s future, the proximity of the homes to the pub’s beer garden, and even the pub itself, is likely to be of concern. Mendoza has gained a reputation for squeezing out pub operators by placing homes in close proximity to their businesses. The homes are set well back from Torrance Close, even though the development has been designated “car free” and the street sees very little traffic and even fewer pedestrians.

The modern design of the buildings – the homes are in the Charlton Village conservation area – is also likely to ruffle feathers. That said, though, they are of a similar design to homes in Blackheath streets such as Langton Way and Heathway, which are also in a conservation area.

Mendoza’s application can be found on Greenwich Council’s planning website by searching for application 15/2968/F. Comments or objections can be left with the council until 24 November – use the links to comment on the council website, or for longer observations, email planningapps[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

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27 thoughts on “White Swan freeholder Mendoza plans two houses at back of revived pub

  1. ThePirateKing October 24, 2015 / 20:40

    I guess that Mendoza cashing in on the land at the back of the White Swan to build houses was possibly always going to be a price to pay for them saving the Swan. Given the very fine local pub and centre of village life that the Swan has so quickly become in the last two months, it’s probably a price worth paying.

    Looking at the plans in detail on the council website, my main issue would be that I don’t understand why the two semi-detached houses are set to destroy the rear third of the Swan’s very nice garden area. That’ll really cut it down the available garden space for people to sit and especially for kids to run around in in the summer.

    Perhaps Mendoza could be persuaded to move the two houses towards Tolerance Close a little and leave the garden of the Swan more of less as it is.

    Yes, that would reduce the size of the houses front gardens a bit, but in turn that would be a price worth paying for the community and customers to be able to continue to enjoy the garden of the Swan while Mendoza cashes in on the current house boom.

  2. John October 25, 2015 / 01:29

    Isn’t the problem likely to be: houses built; new purchasers buy them, fully aware they overlook a beer garden; new residents complain about noise from beer garden; council imposes licence conditions that make beer garden borderline unusable; pub (sans beer garden) loses significant business; ‘time and consideration’ (see above …) persuade Mendoza’s architects that it’s now ripe to submit plans for a conversion of the whole place …

    It seems a little, um, disingenuous for the application to show the beer garden as “Dis-used exterior amenity” space for the White Swan (drawing p836/102/c), and it’s a shame there seems to be a loss of five trees, with the one remaining so close to the new build that its roots will likely be damaged by the foundations, if it’s not deemed necessary to remove it.

    In fairness, the overlooking issue seems to be minimal (two obscured glass windows on the first floor of each house, one from a bathroom and one from the stairwell), though I wonder whether that would actually stop residents complaining, and I think the design’s OK (although the parallel examples of contemporary buildings in a period context strike me as rather higher standard). I like the green roof – shame it’s only got ‘provision’ for solar rather than building it in as standard.

    I’m not convinced how long the ‘car-free’ idea will last though. The idea that “most” likely new residents would choose not to own or use a car seems plainly spurious despite the fact it’s in an area with good public transport, and I am unconvinced by a parking survey that says there are plenty of onstreet spaces within 200m (that’s quite a long way) having been carried out at 3am.

    • ThePirateKing October 25, 2015 / 12:08

      I completely agree about the dangers of buyers moving in and then in turn complaining about any noise – despite the fact that they are buying a house almost inside a pub.

      Surely the answer is – in part – to move the new houses further away from the pub to save more of the lovely pub garden and so give more of a buffer zone. Certainly the lovely central Willow tree deserves to be saved (you are right about potential damage to its roots.)

      The application is described:

      “Please describe the proposed development including any change of use:
      A semi-detached house (2 X 3-bedroom family dwellings) on an dis-used plot of land to the rear of The White Swan public house.
      The development is a contemporary building consisting of two three-bedroom residential units. The building is to consist of a basement, ground and first floor. It is to provide cycle parking and large private exterior amenity spaces.”

      Well, perhaps the new houses “large private exterior amenity spaces” could become a little less “large.”

  3. J Mark Dodds October 26, 2015 / 15:51

    This application must be vociferously opposed. Immediately comes to mind the following. There are bound to be more.

    1) Prevent access to businesses via service road – amenity it is designed for
    2) Will inevitably, without doubt, lead to restrictions on the pub’s license and its trading hours, threatening long term viability of the business
    3) Future development and expansion of the pub business in its own plot will be restricted. There is potential for B&B accommodation above the pub – the pub will need this to sustain its long term viability and access from back is likely to be needed in future.
    4) Creates precedent for residential for the entire service road

    People with planning knowledge are bound to be able to offer more advice on this

    • Geoff Hetherington November 21, 2015 / 12:06

      Does not ACV status apply to the whole hereditament, therefore including the pub garden, and therefore a planning consideration? The consideration here would be that the asset listed as of community value (the garden) is being diminished by the proposal, so should surely fail as being contrary to the purpose of listing in the first place.

      • J Mark Dodds November 23, 2015 / 00:58

        Good point about the ACV hereditament Geoff. Worth looking into.

  4. The Hebridean October 26, 2015 / 19:23

    This developer is going well beyond cheeky. The application form says the plot is GARDEN so Greenwich shouldn’t even be considering the scheme. Doesn’t the Core Strategy say that 99% of new homes will be built on brownfield land which is land that was previously developed? And gardens were reclassified from brownfield to greenfield by the government in 2012. It doesn’t matter that the land’s untidy and full of dead vegetation and rubbish. It can be cleared up. Basically it’s garden and not previously developed land. So no building.
    The Design and Access statement fails to give the required amount of garden space too. The Core Strategy requires at least 50 sq metres of garden for a 3 bed property. These plans can’t make up their minds how much there is and give one house much more than the other. Why?
    And finally take a look at the cover letter which talks about the original proposal being for an overall development of the site including a re-development of the front of the property with redesign of the upper storeys over the White Swan public house, including a new mansard roof. All this is being delayed as “it is more beneficial to the local architectural and community’s character to allow more time and consideration before a planning submission is made for the White Swan”. Yes, extra rooms might be for b&b but if the pub “fails” it’ll be easy to change them to residential apartments and flog off or rent out the whole lot.
    People are very wise to be suspicious about motives and to raise the question of this application setting a precedent if agreed. But to get Greenwich to look at this and not wave it through there need to be at least 8 written objections submitted within the next 15 days or so to meet the deadline for responses. If the Charlton Society weighs in with an objection you still need another 7.

  5. Neil C October 27, 2015 / 18:19

    Hard to be anything other than pessimistic about this. Live music pubs in the area are really struggling with licensing conditions (gardens, doors and windows all to be closed while music playing), driven by complaints that, particularly annoyingly, come from neighbours in developments that have existed for a much shorter period than the music venues themselves.

  6. Joe Thorne October 28, 2015 / 10:37

    As a now ex resident of Charlton I cannot object but pessimism or realism should be the order of the day. If I was still around I would be getting in an objection very quickly. It is a garden grab which is out of line with the core strategy, as well as all the other things mentioned. As the pub is an asset of community value and had to be used as a pub initially, I don’t think it is cynical to see this as a developer’s long game as John and a number of other people suggest. Get housing there, get bed and breakfast in there and when the licensing problems and complaints emerge hey presto no problems getting it all into nice profitable housing. People of Charlton SHOULD be up in arms. What does the planning guru of the Charlton Society have to say? Who is co-ordinating objections? Skates on Charlton.

    • ThePirateKing October 29, 2015 / 00:48

      I believe the Planning Guru aka Roden is at work even now. My own objection has already gone in – see below.

    • J Mark Dodds FRSA (@JMarkDodds) November 9, 2015 / 14:18

      There is NO doubt, if housing is built at the back it will be detrimental to the long term viability of the pub business. Put this into context. On the face of it this is just another vaguely tediious, possibly innocuous, not very significant in the grand scheme of things, planning application to change a bit of space into nice little residential homes… NO it isn’t. It’s part of a war on our built environment, our culture, our communities, our way of life. With planning applications like this one Private Equity is sneaking into our neighbourhoods under cover of ‘development’ and changing them for the worse. for ever.

      Bystanders must have NO sympathy for Mendoza, this company can easily afford to take a knock on this application. Medoza buys property like the White Swan (they specialise in pubs) with CASH. People reading this cannot really imagine just how rich companies like Mendoza are.

      Mendoza is a Vulture Capital company, they are predatory property developers, no more no less and they are preying on people who live in places like Charlton – all over London, nibbling away at the social fabric of the city. They are not in this business for improving the environment, they are in it for making LOTS of cash out of other people’s communities. These companies live with business risk, this is just pedestrian to them, they almost always get their way – standing up to objections is water off a duck’s back to them. they expect it. They can afford to front it, it’s budgeted for, they always get their way. They NEED to learn that trampling over other people’s communities and public space has consequences that cost money. They are used to getting their own way – they seek private investors and get them by offering and delivering huge returns on investment – already incredibly rich people get 20% a year return out of companies like Mendoza. They are in the business of making money out of pubs and retail space they regard as undervalued assets and easy prey for converting into huge, relatively easy financial returns that are not possible elsewhere in the property market.

      This application MUST be strenuously be objected to. It must be blocked,

      • ThePirateKing November 9, 2015 / 14:51

        I wish you’d stop sitting on the fence, Mark and just say if you’re against or not? All these subtle hints… it’s too hard to read.

        • J Mark Dodds FRSA (@JMarkDodds) November 9, 2015 / 15:09

          Thanks – sorry about the typos though I was in a very hurry, there are so many pubs being attacked like this, all over the UK it’s difficult to keep up with speeding fingers…

          Watch out for the Bugle Horn now. it’s massively under threat, although the grade 2 listing will make it harder to pick off.

  7. CharltonNewbie October 28, 2015 / 13:51

    It might be helpful to post details on exactly where objections should be sent to, and how they should be phrased?

    • Darryl October 28, 2015 / 15:10

      You can leave objections on the council’s planning website (follow the links in the final paragraph).

    • ThePirateKing October 29, 2015 / 00:47

      Hello Charlton Newbie

      If you want a rough guide – here is the text of my objection. I’m not at all saying it’s perfect and others may have different grounds for objecting, but here’s how I put things in case it helps you:

      REF PLANNING APPLICATION: 15/2968/F
      TWO 3-BED HOUSES AT REAR OF WHITE SWAN, SE7

      Dear Janet Stewart:

      I am writing to object to the above planning application and ask that you turn it down.

      I was in the beer garden of the Swan today looking at the area proposed for development and was shocked and how much of the garden would be lost and how near the pub the new houses would be.

      My principle reasons for objecting are:

      1/ THE ACV on the WHITE SWAN
      The White Swan Pub in Charlton is currently protected by an ACV obtained on 14th March 2014. The ACV recognizes the Swan as especially valuable to the life and fabric of Charlton Village. The ACV protects the pub against change of use AND its garden against change of use. The above planning application seeks to change the use of approx one third of the Swan’s garden from use as a well loved pub garden protected by an ACV into a privately owned residential garden. For this reason alone I ask you to reject the application.

      2/ REDUCTION OF THE SWAN’S GARDEN
      Leaving aside the issue of the ACV, the above application removes approx a third of the garden of the White Swan which would dramatically change its beer garden for the worse. It would drastically cut the area available to sit in for customers and reduce greatly the area for children to run around. Losing a third of a garden enjoyed by many to be replaced a replaced by a garden enjoyed by hardly anyone is not progress.

      3/ PROXIMITY OF THE NEW HOUSES TO THE PUB
      It seems to me to be extremely silly to choose to build two family homes as near as possible to a busy live music pub. It is simply impractical and asking for trouble in the future ie complaints from the new residents. Pubs have enough conditions placed upon them regarding the level, times, and amounts of noise that they can make without building two new homes as close to the pub as one can image. There is a large distance between the front of the houses and Tolerance Close, it would be much better for all if the houses were moved as far as possible away the pub and towards the road.

      4/ LOSE OF MATURE TREES
      The plans show that if the application were accepted then the very beautiful mature Willow tree in the beer garden of the Swan would be lost. The trees roots would not survive the excavation and building works so close to it.

      I therefore ask that you reject this poorly thought out planning application.

  8. Joe Thorne November 9, 2015 / 12:37

    I no longer live round here but still take an interest as I hope to return one day and hope to find Charlton still has a village. It is interesting that there is some idea on here that the houses could be built with smaller gardens. I have an idea in my head that the amount of gardens for certain sized houses is set down in some sort of planning regulations. If I am right then the solution offered is a no-go. Does anyone blogging here know anything for certain about planning?

    • ThePirateKing November 9, 2015 / 13:31

      Hi Joe

      Many modern houses have gardens much smaller than those proposed for the houses at the rear of the White Swan.

      The planning application itself says: “It is to provide cycle parking and large private exterior amenity spaces.”

      Those words again – “large private exterior amenity spaces.”

      Those that want to continue to have a beer garden to enjoy at the Swan (which has become such a nice pub in such a short amount of time) need to get their skates on and get their objection letters in by 26th November.

  9. Joe Thorne November 9, 2015 / 20:27

    Just because the planning application says something, don’t make it true. I have consulted a friend who is a planning officer and he tells me that 3 bed houses must have at least 50 sq m of garden (not just amenity space). To be legal these houses would actually need even bigger gardens. Not making this up. It’s how it is. So it looks like Mendoza have a pretty poor plan.

    • ThePirateKing November 9, 2015 / 21:48

      Hi Joe – I’m not quite sure what your point is here? I’m against the idea of Mendoza selling off a third of the White Swan beer garden to become private gardens for new homes. It’s not really up to me / us here to find solutions to their planning issues.

  10. Joe Thorne November 10, 2015 / 17:04

    Definitely not trying to sort out Mendoza’a plans. They are rich enough to do that themselves. Just pointing out that my planning obbo reckons they have submitted sub standard plans. And also that under planning regs no one should expect SMALLER gardens than those set down in local plans to be an option.

  11. The Hebridean November 13, 2015 / 19:54

    Is the Anti Gallican now under threat? Planning application 15/2272/F seeks to reduce the pub size, convert the hotel rooms into flats, build an extension with more flats and a retail unit at ground level with a commercial gym in the basement. Balconies would overlook Woolwich Road despite the AQ readings exceeding EU levels. No business statement to support reducing the pub size. Taking the mick?

  12. The Charlton Society November 17, 2015 / 17:16

    The Charlton Society has formally objected to the proposed houses to the rear of the White Swan and facing the Torrance Close service road. A number of reasons are involved but the main ones are the assumption by the developer that the new residents are unlikely to own cars; questions about pub operation (including service access); and, most importantly, the role and operation of Charlton Village’s unique service roads, both of which have an overarching actual or potential impact on the environment, the functioning of the Village and planning policy generally that requires a rethink about their use before applications like the present one are considered.

    The Society believes the design of the proposed houses, though not fault-free, is better than average (and includes features that to an important degree would mean they would be unaffected by noise from the pub). The Society also understands that the owner of the pub business – who has transformed its fortunes – knew about the plans for the houses from the start and does not believe they will affect the Swan. This appears to be in marked contrast with his customers’ views.

    • J Mark Dodds November 23, 2015 / 01:08

      Regarding the new pub operator not objecting and knowing about plans to build housing in their garden from the start – one can assume they were in a position of wanting the chance to take on a free of tie lease in a location that needs a good operator and they were prepared to take risk then on signing a lease against the possibility of the houses being built later… because of the circumstances…

      The freeholder will ONLY have granted a lease on condition that any new operator would not object to an application for housing down the line. Mendoza bought the pub expecting to be able to get around the ACV and convert at least the upper floor and develop another storey to residential and likely to put housing at the back as well. The dysfunctional TAW pub business Mendoza bought from Punch, at a ridiculous overvaluation for a trading pub with a gutted upper storey, is an irritation. It was laughably described as a ‘going concern’ to get around ACV conditions. Mendoza has no interest in pubs. They are property developers not pub investors.

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