Lambeth cllrs vote in favour of Tesco plan for George IV pub in Brixton Hill

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

By Vivienne Lewis, at Lambeth Town Hall

At Lambeth’s Planning Committee this evening councillors narrowly voted in favour of Tesco’s plans to turn the George IV pub into their latest metro store.

The committee were told by Lambeth planning officers that Tesco don’t need planning permission to change the George IV pub into a Tesco Metro store.

This meant that members were only asked to vote on four issues – the installation of the new shop front, the access ramp in the forecourt, the illuminated signs outside the store and plant equipment at the rear.

Andrew Child and Bridget Chapman from the Save the George IV Campaign, Bill Linsky from the Brixton Society and Brixton Hill ward councillor Alex Holland tried hard to persuade committee members to refuse the scheme. Cllr Holland pointed out that “The changes will fundamentally change the appearance of a splendid pub”

Some members of the planning committee were clearly uneasy about the proposals, particularly the new access ramp with railings which Mr Linskey described as “hideously ugly ramp, zigzagging across the front of the building like a Mark of Zoro”.

This was reflected in the voting at the end of the debate.

On the key issue of the shop the vote was split two in favour, two opposed and two abstentions, with the chair using her casting vote in favour.  On the ramp the vote was three against and four in favour with the chair again using her casting vote in favour of Tesco.

After the meeting the objectors said that they felt that planning officers hadn’t really taken account of the objections they’d raised or presented these to the committee.

There was surprise that Council officers had argued for the scheme so forcefully.  In spite of this, the vote had been very close and the scheme had only gone through after the chair used her casting vote.

Summing up, Alex Holland said “It was deeply disappointing that the committee didn’t take account of the serious concerns raised by the objectors” and that as a result “we’ve lost the opportunity for the George IV to become the community pub it could have been”.

The Save the George IV campaign aren’t giving up just yet, however, and the committee will be meeting again pretty soon to discuss tactics. Look out for further news in the Blog.


  1. The George looked quite nice, but it was never really a community pub. Not really. About a decade ago it was the place where you went after the Fridge shut for a face-full of nightmarish techno. Then it became a series of unsuccessful bars with barbeques and that big marquee thing out the front, then the music bar—but nobody was really into it. The problem that place has got is that it’s in completely the wrong place. It’s not in the kind of spot where you’d look at it and think “Ooh. Now there’s cosy. Think I’ll nip in for a few sherbets and a read of the papers.” It just isn’t. It’s the arterial character of Brixton Hill that does it. Negril’s ok because it’s behind a fence and the White Horse is ok because it’s on a stretch of the road that feels more like a high street with lots going on. But the G IV is just stuck up there in a rather desolate piece of ground (the romance of the prison / tile shop, etc.) and ultimately that’s why nobody ever went there. Moral of the story—pubs on A roads generally don’t work.

    And speaking of the White Horse, I don’t hear anyone complaining about the demise of the South Beach Bar. That place was AMAZING, though perhaps a wee bit stabby. Still, I don’t see a bunch of boomingly over-opinionated students setting up a Save the South Beach Bar Committee. Eh. Didn’t lift a finger to save that place, did you? Bloody hypocrites.

    • Well said, and same for the Telegraph, hypocritical faux conservation is written all over this.

  2. They are going to model this Tesco like the one down near Kennington (what was once the Russel Hotel). The zig zag ramp is a complete design failure. The railings are falling apart and those on wheel chairs have to perform a slalom course in order to buy a load of bread.

  3. I am with Deano Tracy- people speak about community and yet there seems to be so little support for all those small grocery shops that line Brixton Hill who now seem to have to open incredibly long hours to make a living.

    • Those small community grocery shops on Brixton Hill have not been forced to open “incredibly long hours to make a living.” They have always done so, out of choice. Note, for example, the large lettering above the window of the shop on the corner opposite Corpus Christi, advertising the shop’s 24 hour booze policy. It’s always a delight to walk down the hill first thing in the morning past the members of “the community” who like nothing more than to kick off the day with four cans of super-strength, rough cider. Lovely that.

  4. Two weeks ago you were reporting that it had been listed as a community asset and that there was 6 months to find a new buyer. What happened?

    Is there any right to appeal?

    It didn’t work as a viable pub before, but Brixton has changed a lot, very quickly. Look at the old Conservative Club, for example – rammed all the time. And it could certainly work as a cafe/restaurant.

    But no business plan can compete with the profits to be had selling the ground floor to Tesco and the rest for flats. This is why we need planning laws, and we need Lambeth Council to enforce them.

    • Lambeth council did enforce the planning laws. There were no realistic grounds on which to successfully decline the application. Had they passed it, Tesco’s would have won the appeal and we’d have lost a lot of Lambeth money.

  5. Shame no one came forward with a business plan for a decent pub, but let’s face it, the demise of all the previous attempts showed the writing was on the wall. Besides, it has not been a real ‘PUB’ for ages, there are, thankfully, some other good examples of such nearby like the Elm Park Tavern and the Hand in Hand. I would have preferred a cafe/restaurant as there is not much choice at the top end of Brixton Hill on that score. Anyways, glad to see some progress and the hope that those opportunistic squatters will be soon be turfed out. This will be very convenient for nearby residents, who want the sort of choice that the chains can offer within 5 minutes walk from their home. The Sainsbury/Tesco battle is certainly in full force along this stretch of road now, as someone else pointed out, another player would add something more fresh and pleasing to the area, like an M&S or mini Waitrose. I think however the area is still considered too low key for those players to consider it a target – but would like to proved wrong.


    • George IV is a characterful building, would be a shame to lose that.

      Looking on the bright side ate least it will be convenient for any escaped prisoners, much more easier to get to than the other supermarkets mentioned especially when the cops are on your trail.Also more affordable than Waitrose for your average prisoner.

  7. I disagree, there are already 2 sainsburys locals on Brixton hill, now a Tesco. Just 2 turnings further up Brixton hill there is already a Tesco metro on Streatham place, they have now ( just through the back of the prison (Though onto kings avenue ) built another sainsburys. These big boys are killing all our local shops. You only have to look at new park road, it’s now full of crap shops. Remember once the corner shop goes it will never return. Shame on Lambeth council yet again. In the past couple of years they also gave planning to a Tesco and a sainsburys opp each other in west norwod, that has killed the high street completely off….

  8. Wasn’t this place a crappy wine bar 5 years ago? It has been a sorry site on Brixton Hill for a while now, at least a Tescos will provide long term employment for dozens of service workers in the area….so long as they are required to play one Basement Jaxx album a week in store!

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