Silent councillors condemn Greenwich’s Thames pub to bulldozer

The Thames pub, Thames Street
The Thames has been closed since the 1990s Photo: Ewan Munro via CC BY-SA 2.0

Councillors voted tonight for an 19th century pub building in west Greenwich to be knocked down without discussing the issue.

Developers were given the go-ahead to replace The Thames, on the corner of Thames Street and Norway Street, with a seven-storey block containing 20 flats and a unit on the ground floor which could serve as a micropub, shop or office.

The Greenwich area planning committee voted 4-1 to approve the proposal. After vice-chair Norman Adams offered his colleagues a chance to discuss the scheme, they elected to go straight to a vote.

Councillors earlier heard that while a planning inspector had upheld council officers’ decision to reject an earlier scheme to demolish the building, the inspector had declared that the Victorian pub – which has not been open since the 1990s – was not worth saving, which would have made rejecting the scheme difficult to defend if developers appealed. Council officers had recommended the scheme went ahead.

Labour councillors Adams (Kidbrooke with Hornfair), Leo Fletcher (Blackheath Westcombe), Mehboob Khan (Greenwich West) and Aidan Smith (Greenwich West), all voted to back the development. Conservative Geoff Brighty (Blackheath Westcombe), who completed the all-male committee, voted against the proposal.

21 objections had been submitted against the proposal, but only one neighbour addressed the committee, telling them the development would block out light and overlook nearby properties. Smith asked the developers to respond to neighbours’ concerns, the only contribution any of the councillors made apart from voting.

Many drinkers had hoped the pub, whose surroundings have been transformed by new developments in the past 15 years, would have a revival to serve its new neighbours. A scheme to refurbish it had been approved as recently as July 2015, but the landowner said the building had significant structural issues and was no longer viable as a pub.

Known as the Rose and Crown until a fire in 1986, the Campaign for Real Ale’s South-East London Pub Guide from two years later records the Thames as being “a large single bar with aquarium”. It adds: “The ex-docker ghost who haunted the cellar has extended his range to the rest of the pub.”

Its neighbour, The Old Loyal Britons, was closed in 2014 and has now been demolished; the nearby Lord Hood, on Creek Road, is also being demolished as part of a development scheme. However, a new Fullers pub on the riverside, The Sail Loft, has thrived since opening in February 2016.

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