A pub in the former Barclays bank at Blackheath Standard has been approved by Greenwich Council.
Common Rioters brewery who’ve operated a temporary bar at Charlton House over the summer are behind the venture.
Plans for outdoor seating were dropped over concerns of noise issues with neighbours.
Fundamental issues of what businesses are, who they appeal to and likely clientele again reared their head – which has been seen a number of times in Greenwich borough.
There were certain arguments that appeared pretty outdated.
Cllr Aidan Smith raised a point that Greenwich Highways had advised that cycle stands for customers should be dropped as it would encourage drunken cycling.
Greenwich Highways department showing they’re stuck in the past again?
In the modern day it’s pretty clear that many who go to pubs don’t do so to get drunk – or even to consume alcoholic drinks.
Many simply have a coffee or a low/no alcohol drink while with friends.
That experience ranges from expensive premium bars to Wetherspoons. The idea that people cycling will do so drunk seemed odd.
It brought to mind the time when a coffee bar in Woolwich town centre was refused a license to sell alcohol – when the target market was wildly different from other pubs.
Problems with alcoholics was hardly going to be exacerbated by those drinking a £4 bottle of Becks in a coffee bar when a giant Tesco and off licences were in the area selling 4 cans of cider for £3.50.
Too many pubs?
Back to the Blackheath plans and cycle stands were dropped with Greenwich West Cllr Pat Slattery objecting to them, though she did state the application was a good one overall for the area.
She said she was sceptical of bringing in tables at 9pm if there was outside seating.
The applicant replied that’s what they do at Charlton House and it works fine.
Cllr Norman Adams asked whether it was viable for a pub in the area given two others nearby.
Again this seemed to not realise there’s different markets. Over the years I’ve drunk dozens of times in the Standard over the road since I was 18 – and this offering is quite different.
Put it this way – when I was 18 and downing pints we were hardly going to go to a brewery pub when the Standard had music, football on TV and cheapish pints.
Now older and wiser (!) me and others will instead go to a brewery/pub with a different offering.
Having a brewery is going to attract beer aficionados and a generally older crowd. It’s for those that want to try a dunkel beer say, or a porter. Not a Fosters.
Cllr Geoffrey Brighty did acknowledge “it’s not going to become a boozing den”.
Cllr Norman Adams then said he would “throw a spanner in the works” and that people would park on double yellows and “cause problems with traffic flow”.
Obvious answer there then is enforce against people doing it and ensure Greenwich parking department wasn’t so poor at its job.
I mean what is the suggestion? Close down or never allow a business to open as people may park badly?
He said he “had great concerns with this site”.
In effect a town centre site with great public transport isn’t suitable as Greenwich cannot enforce parking particularly in the evenings.
There’s probably about 50 bollards on one street alone near the site cluttering up the place and doing little to stop poor parking.
Greenwich now refuse to disclose how much they spend on them, but the last time we saw figures was around £50,000+ a year on wooden bollards alone.
There’s always money for that, but improving enforcement (which pays for itself) rarely happens.
It’s notable how little street clutter is seen in many other boroughs which also have fewer instances of poor parking.
Almost as if the street clutter does very little, wastes money and is no substitute for staff on the ground enforcing poor parking.
Ann Hill from the Westcombe Society was also concerned with parking near residents houses.
This may be valid right now, but again that’s due to Greenwich’s extremely poor parking enforcement with next to no staff working evenings.
That touches on the wider and long standing issue of the council sorting out parking staff numbers, hours of operation and how they move between sites (i.e. mopeds, bikes etc so they can be reactive and visit reported sites quickly and regular hotspots), as for years there’s been a skeleton staff that knocks off early each night.
That issue though applies to anywhere that opens after 7pm.
Business offering something unique for the area shouldn’t suffer due to council mismanagement.
Watching Greenwich Council meetings often induces a feeling that some of those making decisions have little experience of the wider world and an impression that they’ve not been elsewhere in London or the country recently.
I mean, it’s not hard to find examples of things they’re questioning that work well in many, many places.
The plans did eventually pass with Cllr Norman Adams voting against.
Anyway, this isn’t the only pub in Blackheath seeing alternative uses.
With banks departing many areas, many units are seeing new life as food and drink venues. On the other side of Blackheath a former Lloyds bank is set to become a branch of Danish bakers Ole & Steen.