Green Goddess: Blackheath Standard bank to become bar after councillors approve plans

former Barclays Bank building
The Barclays Bank branch closed in January

Greenwich councillors have backed plans to turn the closed Barclays Bank branch at Blackheath Standard into a bar and nanobrewery – despite objections from two local groups.

In March, The Charlton Champion revealed that Plumstead-based Common Rioters brewery wanted to turn the former bank, which closed in January, into a “beer café”, which would brew much of its own beer.

Planning officers recommended the proposal, pointing out that it would keep a valued building in use and allow a local business to expand in a town centre location.

The Greenwich area planning committee supported the plans tonight, although its outdoor seating was reduced to address concerns from local residents.

Neighbours either side of the building spoke of concerns about privacy, noise and drainage, and the owner of a house next door to the site of the bank’s old cash machine objected to plans to put seating and the bins close to his home, even though it would be shielded by a large trellis.

Both the Westcombe Society and the Blackheath Society submitted objections to the plan.

Green Goddess bar
Plans to use this area for outdoor seating were dropped

Ann Hill of the Westcombe Society told the committee at Woolwich Town Hall: “We do not object in principle to a microbrewery on this site but we object to the impact of the hospitality component on the occupants of number 43. Even with the trellis and planters tables will still be in close proximity to number 43, people will be sitting and moving around just 2.6 metres away until 9pm.”

Hill also objected to the scheme on the grounds of noise and claimed the proposal failed to meet planning policies because it would have “an adverse effect on noise and quality of life”.

Stephen O’Connor, who founded Common Rioters with his wife Maryann, said that he would be happy to move the bins and not have seating next to number 43 if it helped get the plans approved.

He explained that the brewery would be brewing up to 500 litres at a time, up to twice a week – compared with the 100,000-litre operation at Meantime in Greenwich.

He told the councillors: “We wanted to help bring quality beer and other local drinks to the people of SE London. We’ve found what we think will be our home and we want to enhance it and bring it to life.

“We’re not about selling cheap drinks – it’s about setting a realistic price so that suppliers in the chain, some of them will be local, will get a fair income. We use a lot of carefully-selected, locally-sourced suppliers and we hope to continue that.”

Green Goddess bar
Outdoor seating will close at 9pm

The Green Goddess has been operating as a pop-up bar at Charlton House since April and Maryann said that the “brilliant” experience had “really helped us decide the place we want to have at the bank”.

Councillors generally backed the scheme, although Geoff Brighty, the Blackheath Westcombe Conservative councillor in whose ward the bar will be in, said he would object if the outdoor seating by number 43 was not removed.

“I don’t particularly object to the change of use – it’s not going to be a boozing den by the sounds of it, but I do have real concerns about the use of that section of the forecourt,” he said.

Green Goddess bar
The inside of the building has already been stripped out

Aidan Smith, Labour councillor for Greenwich West, quizzed one of the council’s planning officers, Neil Willey, on why he had opted against having two cycle parking spaces for bar customers. “I’ve been taught since year dot that you don’t drink or drive in a car, so why should you do that in a bicycle,” he said. Smith countered by pointing out that “a wet-led bar on Woolwich Road” – the River Ale House – had recently been given new cycle racks.

But Norman Adams, a Kidbrooke with Hornfair Labour councillor, said a bar would be an “unsuitable” use for a building that had previously only been in use during the day. “The other thing that worries me is rogue parking, they will come and park on double yellows, that gyratory comes under great pressure and I can’t see this proposal making that any better, in fact I can see it making it worse,” he said. Adams also questioned whether there was demand for another pub in the area, claiming that the Royal Standard and British Oak were not well used.

Green Goddess render
How the bar will look

Chair of planning Stephen Brain said that the application was “tricky” in some respects because of the outdoor seating, but said the building was already in a busy location and that the success of the River Ale House showed such an approach could work.

“[At least] Wetherspoons haven’t grabbed it,” he said. “Equally, a bookmakers could take that straight away without coming to planning and we have far too many bookmakers in the area.”

Councillors backed the scheme in a number of individual votes after Greenwich West Labour councillor Pat Slattery said she could not support adding cycle racks for customers – an amendment to the plan which was also approved.

The proposed opening hours would be 10am to 11pm seven days a week, with a midnight closedown on Fridays and Saturdays in December, although a licensing committee is yet to hear final plans.


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Green Goddess: Council planners recommend bar for Blackheath Standard bank

Green Goddess render
Councillors will decide whether the bar should go ahead next Tuesday

(Update: The planning meeting was postponed to Tuesday 19 October)

Greenwich Council planners are recommending that councillors approve a planned bar in a former bank at Blackheath Standard – but two influential local groups want the idea thrown out.

In March, The Charlton Champion revealed that Plumstead-based Common Rioters brewery wanted to turn the former Barclays branch, which closed in January, into a “beer café”, which would brew much of its own beer.

The brewery’s application to open The Green Goddess will go before the council’s Greenwich area planning committee next Tuesday. Council officers say that the plan “would bring a vacant commercial building back into use and for a purpose, which is appropriate for a designated retail area”.

Common Rioters’ founders Stephen and Maryann O’Connor have been testing out their ideas with a weekend pop-up pub with the same name at Charlton House. Their brewery’s name comes from the Plumstead Common rioters, whose revolt in 1876 saved the open space from being destroyed by a developer.

While 42 messages of support were received, there were 16 objections, including from the Westcombe Society and Blackheath Society amenity groups.

The Westcombe Society said a bar with no kitchen “may lead to an increase in anti- social behaviour outside residential properties” while there would be “smell and waste from the brewing process”.

Meanwhile, the Blackheath Society said “a ‘wet led’ pub without food seems to be designed to encourage pub crawls and potentially excessive alcohol consumption”.

The group also claimed that the bar would “encourage driving to the site, but as there is no car parking proposed this will lead to more congestion and nuisance in neighbouring streets”.

Another objection from a member of the public claimed that there was “no need for additional commercial activity at the Standard”.

There were also concerns about plans to allow tables outside, but a large fence would be put in place to protect the bar’s next-door neighbour on Vanbrugh Park. Outdoor drinking would not be permitted after 9pm.

Two cycle parking racks would be provided for staff. Transport for London had asked for two racks to be provided for customers, but Greenwich planning officers refused, saying “the provision of cycle spaces for customers (short stay) is not, as ‘drinking and driving’, whether it is in a car or a bicycle is not safe”.

The proposed opening hours would be 10am to 11pm seven days a week, with a midnight closedown on Fridays and Saturdays in December.

Work is already under way on the building to convert the bank’s offices into a two-bedroom flat; there is already a flat on the upper floor.

A final decision is due to be made at Woolwich Town Hall on Tuesday.


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Want to see The Green Goddess beer café come to Blackheath Standard? Here’s how to show support

Green Goddess render
How the bar could look

Drinkers who want to support a Plumstead brewery’s plans to turn a former bank at Blackheath Standard into a “beer café” can now show their support to Greenwich Council.

As The Charlton Champion revealed last month, Common Rioters Brewery wants to turn the former Barclays into The Green Goddess, which will also provide it with a place to brew its own beers.

Documents submitted to council planners reveal plans to turn the old basement vault into a bottle cellar and tasting area, with the main bar and brewery on the ground floor. Separate plans have been submitted to convert the first floor offices of the bank into housing; there is already a flat on the top floor.

The building would also need a premises licence to operate as a bar – for now, the planning application indicates that it would close by 11.30pm.

“Education is a core theme of the concept – It’s planned to hold occasional brewery tours and ‘be a brewer’ events as well as sommelier led tasting and training sessions,” the application says. It’s anticipated that an apprentice (covering all aspects of brewing and bar management) will be taken on in due course to help open access to the industry.”

Full details can be seen on Greenwich Council’s planning website (or search for reference 21/0799/F), where residents can also leave comments before 22 April.

In the meantime, Common Rioters are opening a pop-up bar at Charlton House from 12 April to show off their offerings to locals.


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