In an alternative reality, the Council is giving itself a ‘pat on the back’

1 min read

Author: Cyril Richert

New façade of the Alchemist pub in St John’s Hill

The façade of the Fishmonger/Alchemist pub in St John’s Hill has been “restored” with an additional element on the left of the original building. The Council is now claiming that it has been “restored back to its original Victorian-era splendour after the council took legal action to force the developer to rebuild it“.

However in reality the initial planning permission to knock down the façade and rebuild was refused, the developers did it anyway, then submitted a retrospective application similar to their original one, this time approved by the Council.

Alchemist pub as it was before demolition

Following the demolition of the former Fishmonger/Alchemist pub made without planning consent, the Council’s press release dated Tuesday 21st July 2015 said “The council responded to this unlawful demolition by launching enforcement action requiring the developer to rebuild it brick-by-brick.

And the chair of the Planning Application Committee, Sarah Mc Dermott said that the builders will have to use “the same materials and to the same architectural design“. This has been ignored by the developers who used modern masonry blocks (but at least the final result is what most people where expecting).

On 14th September 2016, the developers submitted a retrospective planning application 2016/0647, which was approved by the Council (7 votes in favour and 1 abstention). An objection from the Wandsworth Conservation Area Advisory Committee, saying that the building should be rebuild with its original details and materials, was dismissed.

In April 2016, officers in charge of the case said that they did not know the progress of the enforcement. It appears that Wandsworth Council decided to treat the retrospective application (similar to their initial application which was refused) as respecting the enforcement notice (which is the case if you consider that the enforcement notice was only telling them to do as they wished in their original application, i.e. knock down and rebuild the façade). 

Therefore, the statement from current Planning chairman Cllr Will Sweet saying: “this is excellent news and testament to the council sticking to its guns and insisting on the building’s complete restoration” is misleading at least. It is just another example of the disingenuous self-serving puffery that we have come to expect from Wandsworth Council’s over-active PR department. 

Did you like reading this article? Help us writing more!

CJAG website has been publishing local news for more than 14 years and remains committed to providing local community information and public interest journalism.

We aim to feature as much as possible on community campaigns and initiatives, local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents and helping residents.

We've always done that and won't be changing, in fact we'd like to do more.

Until recently, all stories, analysis and reports published have been made with the great help of many volunteers. However, at the end of the day it cost time and efforts and we are frustrated that we cannot do more: there are many subjects that we would like to cover but we need financial resources to help us providing regular information.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

2 ways of supporting our project

Do you think what we are doing is helping the community and you want to encourage us to do more? We have set up two ways of supporting our project:

  1. Paypal: For one-off contributions, you can just use your bank card. However if you wish to encourage and support us regularly with a small amount, you will need a Paypal account to set up a monthly subscription. Click here to donate.
  2. Patreon: this is a well-known membership platform that connects content creators with supporters. Mainly, it offers financial tools that let supporters subscribe to projects that give creators a predictable income stream as they continue to create content. Click here to subscribe and support us regularly.

If you do support us in this way we'd be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

CJAG News editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
He is also funder and CEO of Habilis-Digital Ltd, a digital agency creating and managing websites and Internet solutions.