Successful residents' campaign to save much loved local pub in Tottenham threatened by developers
After 3 months of campaigning by local residents and users of the Fountain Pub in West Green Rd, N15 the Council finally conceded that it can't allow such a well-used local community facility to be demolished or turned into yet another a block of flats.
The Fountain Pub has been declared to be 'a valuable community facility', and hence its loss would be 'contrary to Policy CW3 'Protecting Existing Community Facilities' [from the Council's revised Unitary Development Plan, 2004 - see at end]. This was the most significant of the four points on which the proposal was rejected. For example, the loss of the Fountain would also 'seriously detract from the important character' of the surrounding conservation area.
This recognition that a pub can be 'a valuable community facility' is believed to have set a precedent which will save other valued community pubs around Haringey which have increasingly been threatened by developers. Many have already been lost, with the Council refusing to acknowledge their importance as facilities for local communities - eg for social interaction, venues for live music, pub sports and events, often with meeting rooms, back gardens and other key features.
This great victory was achieved despite Council officers recommending support in December 2004 for a previous, similar application to build flats on the site.
Residents mobilised in the following ways to save The Fountain:
1. Clyde Area Residents Association started a petition in the autumn, getting hundreds of signatures.
2. Around 20 local residents and Fountain users attended an official 'Development Control Forum' . A PR person for the applicants extolled the virtues of the proposed block of flats, but people present were angry and made it clear that they were determined to save the pub. At the end of the meeting a 'Save The Fountain' campaign was hurriedly set up. The campaign got front page publicity in the local press. As well as local residents associations, the Board of West Green Learning Neighbourhood, Haringey Solidarity Group and Tottenham Traders offered support.
3. A public meeting was organised for the end of October. 4000 leaflets were distributed door to door encouraging people to attend and to write to the planning dept calling for the pub to be saved (very many people did that). 40 residents attended the meeting. Someone also attended from Save The Oakdale Arms, a residents' campaign for another much-loved pub under threat from developers in South Tottenham. Save The Oakdale had collected 600 protest signatures and got active support from the local HOBA Residents Association and Haringey Trades Union Council. At the public meeting a proposal to hold a protest march from one pub to the other was well supported. It was agreed to wait to see whether the objections made by the Save The Oakdale people would be successful at the forthcoming Planning Applications Sub-Cttee, despite Council officers recommending the pub be demolished.
4. The Councillors on the Planning Sub-Cttee wavered, and threw out the application mainly on the grounds of the design of the proposed flats. The issue was fudged. However, it was clear that the community was winning the argument that the 2 pubs must be saved as vital local community facilities.
5. Campaigners discussed whether to go ahead with the march before the end of the year. Woodlands Park Residents Association, West Green RA, Chestnuts Northside RA and the Haringey Federation of Residents Associations all agreed to back the march... but this depended on what was happening with The Fountain application.
6. It was rumoured that Council officers were beginning to waver, and were going to reject the Fountain application themselves, rather than it go to the Planning Cttee. But there were concerns they might only reject it on the details of the design, which would allow the developers (for both pubs) to keep coming back with revised proposals until they got the go ahead. Officers and Councillors were lobbied - they were left in no doubt that a matter of principle was at stake, that people across the borough were watching and that further protests were planned.
In the end common sense, intelligent and determined lobbying, and people power triumphed!
However, it is important to remain vigilant and to continue to support local residents and communities opposing any future applications which threaten either of the two pubs - or other much-needed community facilities around the borough.
Dave Morris - member of Chestnuts Northside Residents Association, N15 and the Save The Fountain campaign 4.12.05
Haringey Council's emerging Unitary Development Plan [revised 2004] (p165-6) states:
a. [para 10.1] ' Good community facilities are essential to the fabric of a successful, healthy and inclusive society.' b. [para 10.4] The Council's Key Objective is: 'To increase the stock of good quality community facilities in Haringey, especially in areas of shortage, and to improve existing facilities'. c. [para 10.13] ' The change of use or demolition of a community facility will only be granted planning permission in the following circumstances: - if the facility is derelict or out of use, and no other community groups are willing or able to use it - if the community facility is in use [and] alternative accomodation [for it] is provided [by the developer].'