Wandsworth council opens consultation on future of Wheatsheaf pub

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags South london pub Council of the european union Inn Public house

Wandsworth Council has opened a public consultation on proposed Article 4 Directions to save Tooting pub the Wheatsheaf from demolition or change of use.

If granted, the Article 4 Directions would mean any plans submitted to change the use of the south London pub would have to be approved by a planning committee.

Only a handful of Article 4 Directions have been issued to protect pubs, and no council has yet issued a direction that covers both a change of use and demolition.

Campaigners have been fighting to save the Enterprise Inn pub since last summer, after rumours circulated that the lease had expired and the present tenant Gregarious (formerly Antic) were on a 24-hour closure notice.

After initially declaring an interest, Tesco is understood to be no longer interested in the property. However, the Wheatsheaf Supporters Group said it remained intent on guaranteeing the future of the pub.

ACV status

In August, they were successful in securing asset of community value (ACV) status for the pub, which gives locals the right to bid for it should it be up for sale.

Wheatsheaf Supporters Group chair Dan Watkins was confident that the Article 4 on demolition would go through, but he felt that the ruling on the change of use was in the balance.

“If the council agree to the Article 4 on the change of use, they put themselves at risk of a financial claim by the owners at a later date. And given how cash-strapped councils are, it is a concern,” Watkins said.

“But that’s the point of the consultation. It’s for them to weigh up how much public support there is, against the risks of a financial claim. If the risks of the claim are very negligible, they absolutely should go ahead and grant it,” he added.

Council lobbying

As the Conservative parliamentary spokesman for Tooting, Watkins has been lobbying the Council to consider the future of pubs across the whole of the borough.

He explained: “I’m behind the scenes talking to them and making sure the future of all the pubs in the borough is on the agenda.

“I hope at the end of this there is generally more protection on Tooting’s pubs. The problem is being driven by London property prices, and a lot of pubs are at risk.”

An online petition​ to save the Wheatsheaf is close to reaching 9,000 signatures. The public consultation​ is open until 3 April, with a decision expected in June.

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