White Swan: We’re committed to reopening Charlton Village pub, freeholder says

The pub has been stripped of furniture and fittings

The property company that owns the White Swan pub in Charlton Village says it is committed to reopening the venue, which closed suddenly on Monday four years after being taken over by the landlord of the Pelton Arms in Greenwich.

Mendoza Limited, which bought the building in 2015, said it only learned about the pub’s closure yesterday. “The tenant was no longer responding to my clients’ agents’ requests for rental payments,” Hussein Aziz, of Glasshouse Management, representing Mendoza, told The Charlton Champion.

The company has put in several applications to develop land at the rear of the pub’s beer garden, the latest of which has yet to be determined by Greenwich Council. But the company insists it is committed to finding a new tenant to run both the pub and the beer garden.

“Mendoza is now going to commence the marketing of the premises as a public house in the name of retaining a pub at this address – all being well a more food-led public house, which is more suited to the area,” Aziz said.

“It will go about refurbishing and securing the premises first. To reconfirm for you and your readers – my client would like to rent the pub and the beer garden and find the correct tenants to make this into a lasting hub for the area.”

News of the pub’s closure was greeted with widespread dismay yesterday. It had become a favourite for Charlton Athletic fans, and the news came on top of the unravelling of the club’s recent takeover by East Street Investments.

The Charlton Athletic Museum confirmed last night that Addicks memorabilia that it had loaned to the Swan was safe after the pub’s fixtures and furniture had been stripped.


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Charlton’s White Swan pub closes down four years after rescue

Last orders: The White Swan on Tuesday lunchtime

The White Swan pub has closed down suddenly, four-and-a-half years after it was taken over by the owner of Greenwich’s Pelton Arms.

One of two pubs in Charlton Village, the Swan’s future was threatened in 2015 after a property developer, Mendoza, bought the building from Punch Taverns for £900,000.

But landlord Geoff Keen took the closed pub on and re-opened it as a sister venue to the Pelton Arms, bringing live music, beer festivals and quiz nights to the once down-at-heel boozer.

What’s on? Not a lot now

However, the pub was closed on Monday and Tuesday night’s quiz has also been/ was also cancelled. The Charlton Champion understands the business has long struggled with the high rents charged by Mendoza, which has put in several planning applications to develop land behind the pub’s beer garden.

The pub had advertised a full programme of gigs and events for this month and next, but the bar had been stripped of much of its furniture on Tuesday afternoon. Nobody was answering the phone at the Swan, but the Pelton Arms confirmed its sister pub had closed down.

The stage area had also had furniture removed

While the Swan had become a well-regarded local pub – it regularly featured in the Deserter.co.uk World Cup of Pubs contest and staged events for the Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival – it had struggled to attract loyal custom away from gigs, quiz nights and Charlton match days, with its food and ale varying in quality over the years. However, it had been thought to have improved in recent months.

It offered Charlton season-ticket holders a discount on beer and had become a post-match favourite, while it also provided a home for Addicks memorabilia from the Charlton Athletic Museum. Today’s news will come as a further blow to Addicks fans on top of the club’s new management imploding last night amid a public row.

The news will also deepen fears for the future of Charlton Village, with the Swan adding to a lengthening list of closed-down businesses in an increasing tatty parade. There is no formal plan to turn around the village’s fortunes. The pub had been made an asset of community value after an application by The Charlton Society, but that designation has been allowed to lapse.

A closed-down pub will also make Mendoza’s redevelopment plans for the rear of the pub more viable. Its most recent planning application, to build a house behind the beer garden, featured plans to drive an access road through the side of the beer garden. Unlike its other applications, council officers have not thrown this one out and the plans are still awaiting a decision.


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White Swan freeholder plans to shrink beer garden for new housebuilding plan

The road to the house’s bin store would run through this outbuilding and the beer garden behind

The company that owns the freehold to the White Swan pub has made its fourth application to build on land behind the pub’s beer garden – taking a strip off the pub’s beer garden in doing so.

Isle of Man-based Mendoza Ltd, which makes money through buying pubs and turning part of the land into housing, again wants to build a three-bedroom house on land behind the pub, although with a new design that takes inspiration from the Swan’s neighbour, The Bugle Horn. The plan eight months after a planning inspector threw out its last attempt.

In an application submitted to Greenwich Council, it says that planning officers are now supportive of the scheme, which would see the house face the Torrance Close service road behind The Village.

This access route would be extended to the new house

However, the new plan involves using the yard at the side of the pub – and part of the beer garden – as an access route so council bin lorries can collect refuse from the new house by driving in from The Village. Plans submitted by Mendoza show the road running through an outbuilding and the east side of the beer garden. Greenwich Council had told the developer that its bin lorries were too big to use Torrance Close.

The beer garden will be used on Sunday for a Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival screening of Life of Brian.

While Torrance Close had been seen as unsuitable for new homes by many, the planning inspector who dealt with the last application did not agree, saying: “The local area to which the site belongs [Torrance Close] has an air of neglect and to my mind is capable of successfully accommodating a bespoke form of new development.

“The conservation area itself has no single unifying architectural theme and there is no obvious reason why it could not in principle readily assimilate a variety of new dwellings in terms of size and style.”

The access route to the bin store can be seen on maps submitted with the planning application

The developer says the design of the home is informed by “a visual analysis of the area”, citing the Bugle Horn and Charlton Assembly Rooms. “The immediate site context is interspersed with Victorian outhouses, chimneys, single and gable- pitched roofs, brick ornamentation, linear facades and window surrounds,” it says. “There is a sense of establishment with most buildings with specular geometries added to address function and enhance the parent form.”

Mendoza render of new White Swan home
How Mendoza says the new home would look

Mendoza bought the pub from previous owner Punch Taverns in March 2015, evicting the then-management three months later. A first attempt at development, to build two homes, in October 2015, was thrown out by Greenwich Council planners. That decision was upheld by a planning inspector. A second attempt was rejected earlier in 2017. The third attempt, for one three-bedroom house, was rejected by council planners in December 2017 and again by a planning inspector in January. The pub was declared an asset of community value in March 2014, although this has now lapsed.

It is four years this month since the once-tatty pub was taken over by Geoff Keen, owner of Greenwich’s Pelton Arms. It recently launched a new menu on Tuesdays to Sundays, with a vegan pop-up, Rocket, in place on Monday evenings.

Plans can be seen on Greenwich Council’s planning website, reference 19/2600/F. Comments should be sent to the council by 2 October.


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