A Thornton Heath pub run by the same family for more than 20 years has closed after the pub’s owners won a planning appeal to convert the upper floors and an outbuilding for residential use.
The appeal decision also criticised the council for its ‘clear misinterpretation’ of the Local Plan which could have ramifications for other applications.
The decision will see The Welcome Inn on Parchmore Road, operate out of reduced premises which the the licensee Donal Dempsey, had objected to saying the change of use placed the pub “under threat.”
He argued that the conversion of upper floors in to four flats and an outbuilding into a one bedroom maisonette would result in the loss of staff accommodation, the current beer garden, kitchen and render the premises too small for live music, karaoke and parties.
Thornton Heath councillors Callton Young, Karen Jewitt and Pat Clouder, criticised the design of the plans and said more needed to be done to keep pubs, not get rid of them.
They cited the closure of the Flora Sandes, Thomas Farley, The Reform Tavern and The Lord Napier, which is also being redeveloped along similar lines.
They pressed for the Welcome Inn to be afforded the protection promised under both the Mayor’s London Plan and Croydon Council’s Local Plan.
The original application by the Wellington Pub Chain was recommended for approval by council officers in February last year but it was deferred for a site visit to the pub by the planning committee.
Following this councillors voted last July to refuse the application on the basis that the proposal would result in the loss of A4 floorspace to a pub that ‘displays the characteristics of a community pub’ and would be ‘contrary to Policy DM21 of the Croydon Local Plan 2018’. Policy DM21 relating to the protection of public houses.
The council worked out that the change of use would result in a 26 per cent reduction to the pub.
However, the Planning Inspectorate ruled in August disagreeing with Croydon and saying there would be ‘no substantive reason to conclude that the scheme would not be viable’ and the ‘public house would continue to demonstrate those attributes of a community pub’. The Inspector concluded that the proposed development ‘would not be contrary to Policy DM21 of the Local Plan’.
Wellington who were represented by planning consultants Boyers had submitted extensive information to confirm the future viability of the public house, taking into account the reduced floorspace and the ability of the proposed provision to present a ‘community facility’ and the continued provision of activities such as pool, darts, quiz nights and karaoke.
Where the current pool table is located, is being demolished to create space for a new 19square metre beer garden.
A spokesman for the planning. consultants said: “Boyer was able to construct a strong appeal case setting out the short fallings of the decision notice by highlighting that Croydon’s Local Plan is fully up to date having been adopted in the last 18 months and that the Council’s decision was a clear misinterpretation of policy.
The Chronicle was unable to get a date from Wellington as to when it will reopen or if The Dempsey family will continue managing the pub.