All signs point to Wandsworth Council ‘bottling’ it on #SavetheWheatsheaf campaign
Last summer, thousands of people rallied around the campaign to save The Wheatsheaf pub in Tooting Bec, following rumours of a supermarket takeover. After securing assurances from Tesco and other supermarkets that they were not looking to buy the pub, Tooting MP Sadiq Khan wrote to Wandsworth Council asking them to use planning law to protect the pub, in a letter that was co-signed by over 1500 local residents.
On 19th November 2013, the council’s Planning Committee met to decide the fate of the pub. Rather than supporting the campaign’s call to take action there and grant an immediate ‘Article 4 direction’ against change of use, the councillors voted to draw-out the process, leaving the pub at risk. The decision was postponed until AFTER the local Council elections.
Following pressure from the campaign, the council stopped stalling and began the consultation process earlier this year, which resulted in almost 500 extra responses from local residents. All of these were in favour of granting the Article 4 direction against change of use.
Until the change of use direction is granted, the pub remains at risk of a supermarket takeover or being turned into luxury flats. Yet this week the council has published its report which recommends that the application to grant the change of use direction be REFUSED. The council is due to make a decision at their Planning Committee meeting on July 1st.
Sadiq Khan MP said:
“The council has now had several chances to save The Wheatsheaf pub, and just like last time, it looks like they are going to bottle it. Instead of standing up for thousands of local residents they appear to be on the side of greedy developers. With the local elections over, they are arrogantly ignoring the views of thousands of local residents. This means a much-loved pub could become a Tesco or a Sainsbury’s, or converted into luxury flats at a moment’s notice.
“Alongside local residents and campaigners I have been working hard to push the council to take action and grant an Article 4 direction against change of use since July last year. For the council to ignore the views of the 1500 people who signed my letter, and almost 500 other local residents who replied to the consultation, is astonishingly arrogant.
“Make no mistake about it, Wandsworth councillors have the opportunity to save the pub once and for all at next week’s meeting, but if they don’t, the threat still looms large for the pub.”