The Alchemist on St John's Hill must stay as a pub and not be used as a shop or offices
The Alchemist after its demolition (left) and following its rebuild
Wandsworth council's planning department has ruled that The Alchemist, which Wandsworth council ordered to be rebuilt after it was unlawfully demolished, must remain a pub.
The premises were knocked down by a developer without planning permission in the summer of 2015 – prompting the council to issue an enforcement notice requiring him to rebuild it brick-by-brick. The rebuild was completed this summer.
In October its owners applied for planning permission to use it as a shop, office or food establishment. Last week planners rejected the application, ruling that the change of use would “result in the loss of a public house of historic and community value”.
The pub, in the St John’s Hill Grove conservation area, was formerly known as the Fishmonger’s Arms and dates back to the late nineteenth century.
Strategic planning spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said, “This pub is an integral part of the conservation area and a valuable local community facility. Wandsworth is determined to protect our neighbourhood pubs and we will look carefully at all change of use applications in the light of this policy.”
The Alchemist is protected by an Article 4 Direction. In 2016 Wandsworth was the first local authority in the UK to use Article 4 Directions to protect its most important pubs from redevelopment.
It means changes to borough pubs have to go through the planning process, rather than being automatically allowed under ‘permitted development’ rules. This means they can no longer be converted into other venues, such as mini-supermarkets, without the need for planning permission.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that Wandsworth has lost far fewer pubs than neighbouring boroughs, with the Campaign For Real Ale arguing that the council’s pubs policy ‘gives out a very clear message’ to potential developers that turning pubs into shops or homes is unlikely to be permitted.
In all, 120 Wandsworth pubs have been protected by Article 4 Directions. As well as the Alchemist they include The Alma, The Ship and The Cat’s Back in Wandsworth, The Bricklayers Arms and Arab Boy in Putney, The Plough, Falcon and The Beehive in Battersea, The Selkirk, Trafalgar Arms and Wheatsheaf in Tooting and the Bedford and Regent in Balham.
Find out more at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/article4
December 20, 2018