Campaign group prepares to battle for Glamorgan’s future

Pub-lovers in Addiscombe and East Croydon are rolling up their sleeves for another battle over the future of The Glamorgan on Cherry Orchard Road, against developers who have a track record for allowing old pub buildings to fall derelict if they are denied planning permission.

Under threat: The Glamorgan was built in 1838. It was  boarded up soon after being bought by developers in 2016

Campaigners who want to buy the Victorian building and return it to use as a community hub say that the new plans “benefit nobody apart from the greedy developer”.

There is also a strong suggestion that the developer’s planning application has attempted to mislead over the recent trading history of the one-time bustling gastropub

The developers, Butlers Walsall Ltd, have submitted new plans for the site, which would demolish the Victorian building and replace it with an 11-storey block of 36 flats. This in an area already teeming with blocks of flats, but ill-served with public amenities, such as pubs.

The eastern side of the railway lines north from East Croydon Station is packed with modern blocks of flats, mostly through the Menta developments. The nearby Morello II scheme, with a further 456 flats across another three blocks, was recently given the go-ahead.

The new planning application was the hot agenda item at last night’s (virtual) annual meeting of the Save the Glamorgan Campaign.

Developers want to demolish The Glamorgan and replace it with this

“The proposed development offers no affordable housing, no car parking, insufficient communal area and a completely unviable ‘pub’,” a campaign spokesperson said today.

The Save the Glamorgan Campaign, backed by the three Labour councillors for Addiscombe West ward, was granted Asset of Community Value status in 2018, and the campaigners have an experienced and award-winning pub operator lined up, keen to take on the building and return it to the thriving enterprise it was before it closed in 2016.

As it is an ACV, the Glamorgan’s owners have a legal obligation to offer the building for sale to the community.

But campaigners say that the building owners have stalled and avoided any meaningful negotiation since 2017, preferring instead to allow the building to be stripped of its lead roofing, letting it rot away – perhaps calculating that the only viable future, if it becomes sufficiently damaged, would be for it to be demolished.

“The developer has never seriously engaged with us regarding selling the pub,” a campaign member told Inside Croydon. “They have not marketed it at all.

“There are several backers who are interested in buying the pub, and 100 per cent believe it could be run as a viable business. These are people who work in the industry, and we have had offers to help financially as recently as last week.

“Unfortunately, though, this is contingent on being able to see the inside the building and value it, and obviously on the owners selling it at a realistic price.”

So far, the owners have denied access to the building to any prospective buyers.

Their latest planning application has raised questions, though, about its veracity.

Menta’s flat-building near East Croydon Station, with the second phase to come, is where the owners of The Glamorgan want to grab a slice of the property market action

The council, advised by the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, amended its Local Plan policy to provide greater protection for pubs as community facilities. The new application from the Glamorgan’s owners includes only a small bar area in an effort to “compensate” for the destruction of the old-style pub as a means to get round this planning policy.

According to Sean Fitzsimons, one of the ward councillors, “This application clearly flouts this policy with its reduced size, which will affect viability and community use.”

In their application, Butlers Walsall try to make the case that the old Glamorgan pub was not viable as a business.

“While it may be regrettable for some that the building itself is lost, the building has been vacant since 2016, it was simply not viable,” the developers state in their application.

The small bar area suggested by the developers is unlikely to be viable

This is untrue.

The previous owners were well-regarded and their gastropub a popular night out for locals.

In 2016, they decided to sell because they wanted to move to South Africa for family reasons. The best offer they got was from the developers, who eyed a quick and juicy profit. And then the council changed its Local Plan.

“It is very clear that they have no knowledge of, or respect for, the local community and do not have even a basic understanding of pub culture,” said Councillor Fitzsimons.

“Public Houses are a key hub of local communities and this proposal to knock down a much-loved community pub, that served the East Croydon and Addiscombe communities for over a hundred years, will be fiercely resisted by local residents.”

Fitzsimons also pointed out that the same developers own The View on Selsdon Road, which they part-demolished without even seeking planning permission. The council’s planning enforcement team, under the direction of Alison Butler (who she? Ed), never took any action against the owners. The View building, in a prominent position on a busy road, has simply been left to rot, with no consequences for the owners.

Little wonder, then, that the developers have been prepared to try a version of the same cynical ploy at The Glamorgan.

As Fitzsimons said, “The current owner tried in 2017 to demolish the Glamorgan without getting the correct planning permission, but this was refused.

“Since then the pub has been squatted, all the lead on the roof has been removed and now leaks and the ground floor bar area has been vandalised and destroyed.”

Fitzsimons is appealling for help from planners or lawyers with an understanding of affordable housing viability assessments. The developers, Fitzsimons says, have “submitted a viability assessment which only gives a partial explanation of their assumptions and costs and may not meet the recent threshold on transparency set in a recent case in Hackney”.

The planning application is open for public comments on the council’s website, here. Deadline for comments is November 4.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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4 Responses to Campaign group prepares to battle for Glamorgan’s future

  1. RG says:

    All well and good, but times have moved on since 2016. As a local resident, I have to walk past this rapidly deteriorating eyesore twice daily.

    I commend the passion of the small yet dedicated pocket of local ‘resistance’, but ultimately what is the potential audience and footfall for this pub considering there are 5 already within a mile radius (The Oval, The Orchard – 500 yards away!, The Windmill, The Alma, The Builders), not to mention Boxpark. And that’s even before you get into the current situation which is hardly conducive for opening or running pubs, let alone one that could cost 100s of thousands to simply get to a point of opening.

    Yes it’s sad to lose a building with legacy, and historical merit. And it’s also a disgraceful tactic from the developers to deliberately let this and another site deteriorate. But an ACV was obtained, and no one has come forward to buy the pub from the developers. The article mentions they have someone in the wings to take over – why did they not do so during the active period of the ACV? Are they really going to do so now, in this climate, in a fairly run down corner of central Croydon, considering the hospitality industry is on its knees?

    I’m afraid that in my view, I cannot see how anyone would take this on. I also cannot see how it would make business sense, and the fact no one has done so even with an ACV in place surely seals it.

    The new plans make provision for another pub on the ground floor, which from looking at the plans contrary to the above would actually be similar in internal size to the existing footprint. Personally I’d be keener to see it used as a multi-use community space, cafe or similar which would have a wider appeal to more members of the immediate community rather than just drinkers and therefore a better chance of high footfall and general viability.

    Another point to make is that this is central Croydon. And not a particularly aesthetically pleasing one at that. The Council have to build tens of thousands of houses over the next 10 or so years as part of regeneration. Centralised, semi-industrial, tired areas, of which this particular square KM has been for some time, are prime targets. It comes with the territory.

    • There’s been an experienced and award-winning pub operator prepared to step in from Day 1 of the ACV. They have no doubt, with their pre-tested business model and the occupants of all the new flats on the doorstep of the Glaamorgan, they could make a fist of it.

      The trouble is that the building owners have refused to meet or allow site visits, in a deliberate attempt to frustrate the community campaigners and to let the old pub rot. But then, what do you expect from profit-hungry developers who treat real estate like a money-machine? It is not dissimilar a situation to the impasse reached with Menta over The Bridge To Nowhere, because no one at the council’s or Network Rail’s legal department had the wit and foresight to ensure that the private developers would deliver on their side of the bargain.

      This really is where local council planners, together with the elected councillors, need to take the broader view to ensure that all communities have a balanced blend of amenities, such as GP surgeries, small independent stores and even pubs, as well as hundreds of “luxury apartments just 15 minutes from the centre of London”.

  2. Lewis White says:

    It’s a shame to see local pubs go, some of which are architecturally characterful designs. One local to the Glamorgan is the turreted former Leslie Arms, a few hundred metres to the North. Closed as a pub, now scaffolded up and hoarded in . Sad loss of a traditional pub — let’s hope the building itself stays.

    With all the new residents pouring in to the area, soon to be many more with the Morello towers, surely there will be a renewed demand for a real pub in this area? OK, it might be that the new drinkers will be more into West Coast IPA than Carling, but a good publican could provide for both ends of the beer lover spectrum.

    Sadly, a lot of pubs are just rather shabby and boring. Plus beer prices are creeping up steadily.
    Wetherspoons have shown that low prices and good beers –a huge range– and cider and spirits– are not an impossible dream.

    Why not incorporate a pub on the ground floor of a new block, such as a Morello? There is a hugely popular ‘Spoons at the Elephant and Castle like this, the Rockingham Arms, albeit in an older tower block designed by famous 20th C architect Erno Goldfinger.

    I personally would like to see a decent pub with a sunny garden near East Croydon station.

    I can’t see why the Porter and Sorter pub should not be retained, in an archway, with a tower block built on top. They could give it a proper garden on front. That way, we keep a nice Victorian pub, and have luxury / affordable flats on top. A “Win Win” idea ? I don’t mean a Chinese developer of that name, by the way.

  3. Lorraine Maskell says:

    Why are developers not required to either maintain a building in a fit and proper state or restore it to that state if they bring about its demise?? When developers start dismantling buildings and bring about a fair au complis elsewhere they are required to restore the building as was prior to them assuming planning permission would be granted. Shocking illegal behaviour that developers should not be allowed to benefit from.

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