A campaign has been launched to protect a pub, the South Western Arms, from being developed on. Locals fear that without protection, the recently suddenly closed pub may disappear forever.
The South Western Arms, located close to St Denys train station, shut unexpectedly in early March when the landlady decided to cease trading for personal reasons. Now locals, backed by Portswood councillors, are trying to gather as many signatures as possible to urge the council to grant the public house protection from development.
The specific protection campaigners seek for the local pub is for it to be classed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). The classification under the Localism Act (2011) would build in the following protections against development on the site of the South Western Arms:
- Removal of permitted development rights for change of use and demolition of public houses: owners seeking to change a pub’s planning use class or to demolish it must allow its users to comment
- Material planning consideration: ACV status can be used by the Planning Inspectorate as a factor in refusing planning permission for change of use or demolition
- Community right to bid: this allows an ACV to be purchased by a group representing its users or the local community
- Compulsory purchase rights: an ACV-registered building can be compulsorily purchased by the local authority or council ‘if the asset is under threat of long-term loss to the community’
Parish councils and community organisations may nominate land or buildings to the local authority to be added to the list of community assets. The nearby Junction Inn pub already has been awarded ACV classification.
Portswood Councillor Paul O’Neill commented to the Daily Echo:
The South Western Arms is a popular local pub and valued part of the community and the sudden closing of the pub was a shock to many of us in the area.
This measure [Asset of Community Value] is an important step to have the pub safeguarded against any possible future development that might be against the interests of the local community.
According to the Daily Echo, Ei Publican Partnerships who own the public house believe it has an anticipated turnover of just under £500,000. The South Western Arms has also previously gained local recognition for the quality of its service, winning the Daily Echo‘s ‘Best Local’ in 2013 and voted on three occasions by South Hampshire’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) members as ‘Pub of the Year’.
To show support people can sign a petition at the Butcher’s Hook pub, Gentleman’s Corner or Miss Ellie’s Café in Bitterne Park. Alternatively, individuals can email firstname.lastname@example.org to register support, but must include their house number and postcode.
After compilation of signatures, Councillor John Savage and campaigners Carol Clark and Rich Christie will hand the petition to the Council for consideration.