By Vivienne Lewis, at Lambeth Town Hall
At Lambeth’s Planning Committee this evening councillors narrowly voted in favour of Tesco’s plans to turn the George IV pub into their latest metro store.
The committee were told by Lambeth planning officers that Tesco don’t need planning permission to change the George IV pub into a Tesco Metro store.
This meant that members were only asked to vote on four issues – the installation of the new shop front, the access ramp in the forecourt, the illuminated signs outside the store and plant equipment at the rear.
Andrew Child and Bridget Chapman from the Save the George IV Campaign, Bill Linsky from the Brixton Society and Brixton Hill ward councillor Alex Holland tried hard to persuade committee members to refuse the scheme. Cllr Holland pointed out that “The changes will fundamentally change the appearance of a splendid pub”
Some members of the planning committee were clearly uneasy about the proposals, particularly the new access ramp with railings which Mr Linskey described as “hideously ugly ramp, zigzagging across the front of the building like a Mark of Zoro”.
This was reflected in the voting at the end of the debate.
On the key issue of the shop the vote was split two in favour, two opposed and two abstentions, with the chair using her casting vote in favour. On the ramp the vote was three against and four in favour with the chair again using her casting vote in favour of Tesco.
After the meeting the objectors said that they felt that planning officers hadn’t really taken account of the objections they’d raised or presented these to the committee.
There was surprise that Council officers had argued for the scheme so forcefully. In spite of this, the vote had been very close and the scheme had only gone through after the chair used her casting vote.
Summing up, Alex Holland said “It was deeply disappointing that the committee didn’t take account of the serious concerns raised by the objectors” and that as a result “we’ve lost the opportunity for the George IV to become the community pub it could have been”.
The Save the George IV campaign aren’t giving up just yet, however, and the committee will be meeting again pretty soon to discuss tactics. Look out for further news in the Blog.