Lambeth to consider planning applications for Tesco Express at former George IV pub

SQUATTED Tesco intend to turn the George IV into a store
Tesco intend to turn the George IV into a store

By Saara Jaffery-Roberts

A planning meeting at Lambeth Town Hall tonight is to discuss the fate of the George IV pub on Brixton Hill.

Planning officers have recommended that the four current applications from supermarket giant Tesco are approved by the planning committee.

Supermarket giant Tesco first submitted planning applications to transform the George IV pub, or MusicBar, into an Express store in July 2012.

Lambeth Council originally turned down Tesco’s planning application for car parking spaces and removal of railings, on the basis that Brixton Hill is a busy “red route” road and that the pub is in a conservation area. and

Andrew Child, from the Save George IV Campaign, told Brixton Blog: “It is important to think about what pubs represent, they are important community spaces which can be shared by young and old people alike”.

The George IV, which is one of the oldest pubs in Brixton and can be traced back to 1864, was a vibrant place that was popular with music and theatre events.

Child said there are already 12 supermarkets within a one mile radius of the pub, and that supermarkets like Tesco are creating a ‘monoculture’ which is at risk of swamping local business in the area. Despite the company claiming to create 20 new jobs with its proposal, Child said we should consider how many jobs have already been lost through the closure of the pub.

The application represents a trend of supermarkets like Tesco redeveloping pubs into mini-markets across the UK.  According to the Campaign for Real Ale, Over 200 pubs across Britain have been converted into supermarket branches since January 2010.

Legally, a former pub can be used for retail without fresh planning permission, meaning that councils have little control over development plans.

The planning meeting tonight will consider the supermarket’s plans for illuminated signage and a shop front. The plans have been recommended for approval by officers despite strong conservation objections.

No one from Tesco was available for comment.