#rebuildthegreyhound: First Campaign Meeting

The Greyhound, Sydenham, London SE26

Meeting Report: Golden Lion on 24/09/2014 organised by the Sydenham Society

1. Annabel McLaren welcomed about forty residents to the first Sydenham
Society Campaign meeting.

2. Summary of campaign to date (Annabel):

2.1 The chair gave a brief history of The Greyhound from 1719 to its
closure in 2007. The pub and the large car park were acquired by the
Milford Group and they proposed to demolish the pub and build seven
storey housing over the complete site.

2.2 The Sydenham Society began a campaign to stop demolition culminating
in the land and building being designated as part of a Conservation Area
in September 2007. The pub could not legally be demolished without
permission of the council.

2.3 The ownership of the project passed from Milford through another
company to Purelake both of whom initially appeared to be more
considerate of local interests and feelings. Planning permission
retaining the pub and less dense housing was given in 2010 with
anticipated completion in 2012.

2.4 The flats were completed in 2011 but not immediately occupied
because of a condition that the Greyhound should also be completed
(but see below). This was a point the Sydenham society had anticipated.
Lewisham eventually allowed housing occupation and in doing so lost an
important leverage point.

2.5 Instead Purelake began demolition of the existing structure to
transform the space into with what appeared to be more flats. Sydenham
Society, local businesses and residents alerted the council who were
slow to react. Eventually they attended and a stop notice was issued
leaving the shell we see today.

2.6 Purelake were subsequently charged with the criminal act of
demolishing a property in a conservation area. They decided to accept
liability at the Magistrates Court rather than proceed to Crown Court
where the Directors might be held personally liable.

2.7 The court treated the case leniently possibly in consideration of
an implied promise to rebuild the Greyhound quickly. They were fined
£5,000 with £13,000 costs.

2.8 Purelake did not rebuild. Lewisham Planning Department has both
been, in the Society’s opinion, lacking in effort and verve to enforce
the planning permissions. They have had informal, unminuted meetings
with Purelake to cook up a solution. This without the involvement of the
Society or other parties (primarily the head leaseholder for the retail
units).

2.9 Purelake earlier this year unexpectedly began work again on the
building. Lee Newham’s tile mosaic was placed on the back wall.
The Sydenham Society spotted that this was an attempt to complete a
condition of the original Planning Permission and force the head retail
leaseholder to sign the Deed of Variation. The Society alerted the
council and the work was stopped. Subsequently it was discovered that
Purelake was planning to erect an interior wall for the saved tiles as
part of the other condition.

2.10 The Deed of Variation remains unsigned by the Head Retail
Leaseholder because it potentially puts the leaseholder at increased
risk if Purelake continued to not deliver to promise.

2.11 Lewisham Planning Department are believed to suggest the way
forward is a new planning application to superseded the old to get round
the DoV problem. The problem is Purelake are seeking to extend
permissions for the Greyhound from A3/A4 use to A1/A2/A5. This could
include a betting shop or fast food restaurant. William Hill and
McDonalds have been mentioned.

2.12 The last Sydenham Assembly passed a resolution calling on the
council to refuse permission unless the use permissions stays restricted
and there is a committed rebuild timetable.

2.13 Questions from the floor included:
(i) The Society had been unable to get the building listed by English
Heritage.
(ii) The S106 agreement did not include a commitment to rebuild
(iii) It is unclear whether the undertaking given in the Magistrate’s
Court is enforceable.
(iv) Has the Finance Director’s brother Jim Dowd MP a position on the
rebuild – Syd Soc response “declined to answer”.
(v) Can the council get a Compulsory Purchase Order”?
(vi) Does the Localism Act give any leverage (community Asset). Answer –
only if Purelake put it back on the market.
(vii) the nature of the legal relationships between the various parties
needed clarification.

3. Mayor and Cabinet Meeting 01/10/2014

3.1 In response to the Sydenham Assembly resolution it will be
considered at the council meeting has been called where the Mayor and
councillors will take action. That will include a follow up meeting on
22/10/2014 where more definitive advice on enforcement can be considered.

3.2 The Sydenham Society is asking for people to attend the meeting next
Wednesday 6pm at the Civic Suite with a 5.45pm photo call.

3.3 Council documentation on the meeting is here:
(i) http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s31412/Sydenham%20Assembly%20Minutes%20Extract.pdf
(ii) http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s31411/Matters%20Raised%20by%20Scrutiny%20and%20Local%20Assemblies.pdf

4. Core Campaign Group

The initial Core Campaign Group consisted of Annabel McLaren, Pat Trembath, Stuart Grove and Barry Milton. An appeal was made for extra volunteers and the following offered: John Clark, Ben Murray and Karl Richter.

5. Publicity

5.1 The society has volunteers to manage a Twitter & Facebook campaign

5.2 A graphic designer volunteered to create printed material

5.3 The Sydenham Society website and the Sydenham Town Forum are the
immediate sources of breaking information and comment

5.4 Can anyone run a stall at the Sydenham Market October 11th
(Chair and President are away)?

5.5 A photocall (or a picket?) at Purelake’s plush HQ Plaistow Lane, Bromley

5.6 Can everyone write to Mayor, Purelake, the Press etc to raise the
temperature?

5.7 Two people offered to contact Private Eye (Nooks & Corners) and the
Guardian through personal contacts.

5.8 The petition (online/offline) should be over 1,000 by next
Wednesday. We did 25,000 for the library so please get friends,
relatives to sign.

6. Strategy. An informal discusssion centred on:

(i) Exposing Purelake as an organisation which Housing Associations and
Councils (their key market) might find politic to avoid. Up to the
point when Purelake fulfils its promise to bring the pub back into use.

(ii) Pressuring the Mayor and Chief Executive to knock heads together
and take legal action or assist in making other potential partners aware
of their track record in Sydenham.

(iii) Establishing an escape route to assist Purelake to come to a
speedy and profitable solution if they wish to be co-operative

Forum Discussion: http://sydenham.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11924

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