Councillors throw out plans to build house at Greenwich’s Vanbrugh pub

Vanburgh Tavern house
The house took inspiration from the new council houses opposite the Vanbrugh, the architect said

Councillors have rejected plans to build a house behind The Vanbrugh pub in east Greenwich, including on part of its beer garden, after opposition from neighbours and the local MP.

Greenwich planning officers had recommended approval of the plans, the latest in a long line of attempts to build on the land on Vanbrugh Hill that date back to the 1970s.

But councillors on the Greenwich area planning committee rejected the scheme on Tuesday evening, branding it an “incongruous development” that would provide a poor living environment because of the adjacent beer garden.

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook was among those who submitted objections, saying it would harm the operation of the popular pub, also known as the Vanbrugh Tavern. There were 279 public objections to the scheme.

Developer Golfrate Properties Ltd – which is associated with Mendoza Ltd, which has also tried to build on land behind Charlton’s White Swan pub – had wanted to build a three-bedroom house facing Vanbrugh Hill.

Vanburgh Hill
Some residents objected to the loss of open space on Vanbrugh Hill

It argued that previously there had been housing on the site – possibly destroyed in World War II, though there are no records of bombs at that location – and that the plans would still provide the Vanbrugh with “a significantly large garden space for an urban pub, particularly in London”.

A previous plan to build two houses that would have taken up more of the beer garden was refused in 2017, with a further plan being withdrawn later that year.

Vanburgh beer garden plan
One plan to build two houses was rejected in 2017, a second was withdrawn. The new plan is shown at the bottom

In 1975 Greenwich Council approved three terraced houses with car parking on the site, permission which has long lapsed, while permanent permission to use the full beer garden was only granted in 2015 after restrictions on its use were made in 1992.

Council officers said that by taking up less space in the beer garden, the developer had done enough to overcome the objections to the earlier application, but councillors disagreed and threw the application out.

The planning officers’ report said the Greenwich Society had “supported the merit of [the] proposal’s contemporary design” and “appeared to have overcome reasons for [the] refusal of the previous application”.

Note for transparency: 853 was not at the planning meeting – it clashed with the cabinet meeting about selling council land – so this has been written up solely from the council documents.

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