Plans have been submitted to demolish New Cross pub The Montague Arms with a replacement building containing new commercial space and flats.
The pub closed in early 2018 with a petition reaching over 9,300 signatures requesting the music venue remain as just that after a takeover. Numerous live shows have been held at the pub over the years, and a 1989 NME front cover featured Nick Cave, Mark E Smith and Shane McGowan inside the pub. More recently it hosted Caribou and King Krule.
After the 2018 closure it reopened as a sanitised, bland space after much of the interior was removed. Most character was lost.
Demolition and conversion would almost certainly see no late closure forward and no live music return. SE London hardly has much of a live music scene left in many places, with New Cross one of the last areas to enjoy a few venues with late licenses. Growing up I used to travel to New Cross weekly on the 177 as there was little else half decent within miles of home that opened past midnight and had live music or club nights.
Now even that is being lost. At the end of December The White Hart saw plans approved to create flats above the pub.
The plan states: “Current Pub on the Ground Floor is not operating for at least 2 years and it is understood that using the premises as pub doesn’t seem viable for businesspeople. However, we reinstate the pub on the proposed design due to its communal value. We therefore reduce the size of the pub and propose a separate office unit at rear.”
To be polite, the replacement building is built to a budget, and not a large one. It loses all of the charm and appeal of the existing building. This is cheap architecture, if it even warrants the term.
It’d be a poor addition to a town if hidden down a backstreet let alone on a prominent spot at the junction of Queen’s Road and Kender Street. The window size is meagre and attention to detail poor.
The planning application lists total estimated cost of works as “between £2m and £100m”.
The application makes a play of a pub unit but the space is so small it wouldn’t be much of one. A shop or coffee place would be more likely.
A company named Tone Design is listed on the application. Googling Tone reveals a winding up order last year.
In terms of design, the application states “The overarching conclusions of this report are that the historic setting of the building and its interior have already been
significantly compromised, thus limiting the significance of the existing building” after the interior was removed in 2018.
It continues: “The former pub has not been designated an Asset of Community Value by Lewisham Council, although the Council has recognized that the building is likely to be of value to local people due to its use as a public house.”
A 1930s photograph in the application’s Heritage Statement shows the exterior in much the same condition now as then.
It attempts to downplay the architectural quality: “Although the pub has some communal value, any building with a history is likely to be considered to have some degree of communal value. In this instance, the communal value is derived largely from the events and music nights that were experienced there. Whilst the building is representative of these valued experiences, it is the nights themselves that
were of greater value than the appreciation of the architecture of the building.”
Click here to view plans.
There is now a From The Murky Depths Facebook page. Click here to follow and see stories on your Facebook feed.