Lambeth Council votes for demolition of Canterbury Arms

The Canterbury Arms, oldest pub in Brixton, will be demolished and made into flats
The Canterbury Arms, oldest pub in Brixton, will be demolished and made into flats

The Canterbury Arms pub, in central Brixton, is set to be demolished after councillors approved plans for a nine-storey block of private flats on the site.

Councillors were told by planning officers before a meeting at Lambeth Town Hall yesterday that if they voted against the proposals, they would face a costly appeal process and would not have any legal power to stop the sale of the site.

All the councillors expressed that the position they faced was regrettable.

Labour members of the committee, Jennifer Braithwaite, Jane Edbrooke, Mark Harrison and Diana Morris voted for the motion, with Liberal Democrat Cllr Brian Palmer voting against and Cllr Jeremy Clyne abstaining.

An artist's impression of the flats that will replace the pub
An artist’s impression of the flats that will replace the pub

Cllr Clyne, Liberal Democrat for Streatham Hill, said: “The Canterbury Arms is a popular place, and this will be a loss to the community. All we’re going to get is another lot of new flats, and Brixton is becoming inundated with those. The area is becoming bland and characterless.”

He continued: “I find the planned building quite unattractive, and there’s a very limited amount of affordable housing in it – and genuinely affordable housing is clearly what’s needed in this area.”

Landlord Brian Fitzgerald has run the Canterbury Arms for over 20 years
Landlord Brian Fitzgerald has run the Canterbury Arms for over 20 years

Cllr Palmer, Liberal Democrat for St Leonard’s, described the loss of the pub as “a great shame”, as councillors were informed last night that the Canterbury Arms is the oldest pub in Brixton.

Brian Fitzgerald has lived and worked at the pub for twenty years. Mr Fitzgerald and his wife will be forced to move out of the area once the site is sold, as they cannot afford to live in Brixton in their retirement.

Bill Linskey, chair of the Brixton Society, said: “If we’re going to save buildings like this in the future, we need to fight to get the underlying rules changed to be more favourable to us, instead of the developers.

“The councillors simply didn’t have the legal power to stop the demolition of the pub. So much power has been taken away from local authorities over things like pubs, and it’s only going to get worse.”

Nicholas Boles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, recently announced in the House of Commons that regulations are soon to be implemented to permit “greater flexibilities for changes of use” of properties. This will result in further removal of local authorities’ powers over planning applications.

Mr Linskey added: “Planning law is going out of the window. There’s no regard for wider social implications and it just becomes a free for all – all that matters is what makes the most money. The only way this is going to stop happening is by changing policies.

Brixton Blog tried to contact the Labour councillors on the committee and Cllr Pete Robbins, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, but none were available for comment.

Related stories: BRIXTON PUB SPECIAL: Canterbury Arms – the end of an era?



  1. No Mark, this isn’t a plague of humanity, it’s a plague of rich people who can afford the house prices in the developments like these. I’m not sure who these people are, as I’ve none of my friends in Brixton have that amount of money. What we need is a council that stands up to rights of ordinary Brixton people against these property developers. Instead we seem to have a council that will will fight people who want to stay in social housing run by housing co-ops (, but will surrender without a fight to property developers. This is disgusting.

  2. One of the few beautiful buildings left in that part of Brixton, very regrettable indeed to see it go. We have created a plague of humanity on the planet, and the plague needs a place to live to sustain it and its growth, beauty is secondary to that unfortunately. Cannibalism may be our only hope!

  3. From Lambeth’s own Heritage Charter: “Our aims are to; Use the quality of historic buildings to inspire and act as a means to celebrate, conserve and care for the town centre’s past, present and future.”

    Completely meaningless then.

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