An Isle Of Man-based property company wants to turn a Stockwell pub into ‘luxury flats’
I think I hear the words "luxury flats" more than I say "I love you". More expensive accommodation is coming to London, this time above what used to be The Grosvenor pub on Sidney Road in Stockwell. The pub closed last year after being bought out by super-rich property developers Golfrate in August.
The Grosvenor was a hub for live music and community in Stockwell, but shut its doors after being bought out by developers. In August 2014, Golfrate submitted a proposal to Lambeth council requesting permission to turn the top floor into four self-contained flats while keeping the bottom floor as a pub. However, this promise appears dubious - BrixtonBuzz reports that the developers have already cleared out all the pub's fittings – also would anyone really want to live in a "luxury flat" above a noisy pub?
We spoke to someone at Golfrate who maintains that the company is advertising for someone to rent the "retail unit" below, but said "if no-one takes it, what can we do?" Which pub landlord would take control of a pub with four luxury flats above it? Sounds like a fast way to lose money.
Residents want to see The Grosvenor turned back into a pub and reportedly no change of use application has been made to convert the ground floor. Surely the building of flats above it would put paid to any hopes of the pub returning.
Lambeth council denied the proposal after local residents complained that if Golfrate turned the rooms into private flats it would destroy the pub, which it reportedly already has, despite promises to keep it open. Here's a video of the last ever live folk night at The Grosvenor, held last August.
The Isle Of Man-based company Golfrate has previous for shutting down pubs that everyone really likes, to build houses no-one likes. In 2012 the company shut down Lewisham's only gay pub, Two8Six, allegedly sending in bailiffs to evict staff, change locks and turning everything into private flats. The company is worth an estimated £150 million.
After being denied last year, Golfrate is now back with a proposal that's more or less identical to its previous submission – it wants to build "4 self-contained residential units" above the pub. No-one seems to want 4 self-contained residential units, known in plain, common-as-you-like English as "luxury flats", so complaints are being made all over Lambeth's planning page. Here's one that hits the nail on the head:
"The Grosvenor was an outstanding community space where the very fabric of Brixton was woven around music, poetry, activism, where new ideas for the area were hatched, problems absorbed. There are hardly such places left, everything is sanitised, misery spilt onto the streets, ideas die, and what the community was managing is now left for the council to manage with zero money.
No pub (as in PUBlic space) can operate under private flats, and foregoing a PUBlic meeting space altogether would be another nail in the coffin of Brixton. The Grosvenor was a genius of self-organisation with private enterprise-meet-community, and such spaces must be protected if Brixton is not to become a ghost of a memory associated with words property developers sell while they kill: vibrancy, multiculturalism, excitement, solidarity, innovation."
We tried to reach Lambeth council for comment but the case officer is on annual leave until next year. The closing date for comments is today, so if you want to tell Lambeth council what you think, head here.
This case has striking echoes of a case we reported on last year, that of the George Tavern, a pub fighting off developers who want to turn an adjoining part of the building into, you guessed it, luxury flats.
Money shouts the loudest in London, a city that's selling out its history and heritage in favour of short-term gain. It's a system that sides with people with a Netflix account and a Sainsbury's loyalty card, people who leave parties early because they "don't wanna feel rough at brunch".
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