By Saara Jaffery-Roberts
An historic pub threatened with being made into a Tesco Express store has been listed as a vital community asset by Lambeth council.
The George IV, Brixton Hill, will be one of the first buildings in the borough to be deemed an “asset of community value” under new legislation that gives local residents a chance to protect local landmarks.
The community bid to list George IV follows recent plans by Tesco to redevelop the Victorian pub into an Express store. A Lambeth council planning committee recently deferred Tesco’s proposal for signage and an access ramp.
Local MP and Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, said “Lambeth’s decision to list George IV site as an asset of community value is fantastic news – we place incredible value on the unique character of our area and the listing shows that”.
Founder of the Save George IV campaign Andrew Child said that the listing is a symbolic recognition of community values, and that the huge support for the bid represents the “united stand” taken by the community against the supermarket giant.
Child added: “We are thrilled to have achieved this listing, which recognises what this campaign has been saying all along: that this pub is an important community space. Its value to the community will obviously be lost if Tesco presses ahead with plans to turn the George IV into a supermarket.
“We urge Tesco to now seriously reconsider its plans which will do real damage to its brand in this part of London, depriving the local community of a much valued local pub and adding another supermarket which Chuka Ummuna has described as ‘not needed or wanted’. Tesco could instead project a very different image and use its expertise to work with the local community to reopen the George as a community pub.”
New legislation brought in under the Localism Act enables communities to list buildings and land they consider to be of special value to the community. In the event that a listed asset comes up for sale, communities are given a window of 6 months to put together a bid to then purchase it. This legislation gives communities the opportunity to protect and save much loved shops, pubs or other local facilities.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: “Although this news comes after us taking on the lease, we recognise this is an important community building. This is why we have worked closely with Lambeth council’s conservation officer on sensitive restoration plans which were recommended for approval. We look forward to hearing the council’s decision in the coming weeks.”
The campaign group to save George IV has collected over 3000 signatures on a petition to save the pub from being transformed into another Tesco.