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Forest Hill Hotel aka Wenlock House
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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #1
18-05-2014 10:23 PM

Does anyone know any details of the planning, development and occupation of this? I ask because I made an off hand reference to in in a thread on the Sydenham Town Forum about the similar era Kent House Tavern, which is closing down, and suggesting it was likely to end up as residential. However someone wrote of it

Quote:
I cycle past often, and have done for over a year. Still the units aren't sold. Sold being the operative word, little or no social housing there so defeating the object of decreasing a housing 'shortage'.


So I also cycled past, and noticed a fairly recent planning application to do with the change from a pub, and then looked it up on the Lewisham Planning portal

I didn't see any objections from the Forest Hill Society - was this because they recognised that this one was not worth saving, or that the developers were doing everything by the book - holding off from converting the actual bar area while they attempted to find a tenant for it as a pub? I also looked on Zoopla for sales of the eight flats created following the application in 2010 to convert the upper floor, and found just four sales. Could this mean that four of the flats there are actually unsold, and if so, are they unoccupied? Even if unsold, I'd imagine they were let out, with the developer getting an income as a BTL landlord, but I might be wrong. If I was, four flats empty for over a year would be interesting.

I also noticed that two of the four flats now being carved out of the downstairs will be social housing, so the developers, but doing it in two stages, have not got round the rule that developments of ten or more units require some social housing.[/quote]

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michael


Posts: 3,215
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
18-05-2014 11:11 PM

In short, yes, this is a pub that we recognised was not likely to continue and that conversion to residential use would be appropriate in this location. At the same time as loosing this pub Forest Hill gained the Sylvan Post, so the total number of pubs in SE23 did not change.
Most people in Forest Hill did not know this pub existed, but it had its regulars. It is a shame to lose a pub, but places change, and there are a number of other pubs in close proximity.

There was an earlier application for the conversion of the ground floor and basement into residential. The Forest Hill Society had a number of concerns including the lack of social housing, the quality of the residential space, the attempt to label the basement units as live/work to avoid various planning regulations, and other issues. So once that application had been rejected by the council we were pleased to see a much better plan with better living space and including some social housing.

Objection to the 2012 application can be viewed at http://www.foresthillsociety.com/2012/04...-road.html

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Cheeky


Posts: 215
Joined: May 2009
Post: #3
19-05-2014 08:37 AM

It's a shame I think, I know the Forest Hill Hotel was out of the way a bit but I thought it had the most potential as a destination pub in the area, nice quiet street, potential for a lovely beer garden, nice layout inside, could have been a great local and asset to the area (if ran in the right way by the right people), something different to another pub on the high street/Main Road.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #4
19-05-2014 08:44 AM

Thanks.

You wouldn't know if those first eight flats are occupied yet?

Also - the link from your site to the details of the application on the Lewisham site doesn't do anything more than take you to the portal.

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michael


Posts: 3,215
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #5
19-05-2014 09:01 AM

Tim,
The link doesn't work because Lewisham changed their entire planning website. The link was correct at time of publication, but the case number is shown, so you can search for it.

I believe some of the flats are certainly occupied, you can see into the living rooms from the train. But I have not checked that every unit is occupied. It is always possible they have been purchased by an investor who thinks they will retain value better without tenants (I think I'm only joking).

Cheeky,
You are right, it could have made a lovely pub and there was lots of space. But the fact that it was in a residential area would probably have prevented it becoming a major destination pub or increasing hours to compete with the more successful pubs in the area. It was, in my opinion, always going to remain a local pub in a residential environment.

There are instances where a major fight is not worthwhile to save a little used pub, and there are other occasions where it is important to fight for pubs to remain as pubs (and community assets), as the Forest Hill Society did with the Honor Oak.

In this instance it is worth considering that the company that converted Forest Hill Hotel and the company that opened the Sylvan Post are sister companies. In effect they opened a good new pub in a more suitable location to a pub that was struggling to attract customers.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #6
19-05-2014 09:28 AM

I'm glad you're only joking there Michael. As I'm sure you appreciate, seriously, I'm testing my hypothesis that landlords will not keep property empty when they can get a rent in the meantime.

Interesting to note that although FH Soc notionally offset the loss of this pub against the gain of the Sylvan Posts, the formality of the owners having to demonstrate that they could not get a tenant for it as a pub still had to be gone through. Prima facie evidence, I'd say of planning getting in the way of efficient provision of housing.

Cheeky - I agree - I think the architecture was - and still is - good, which is why I was reminded of it by the case of the Kent House Tavern. My general point, as readers of these Forums will know, is that pubs such as these have a much better chance of surviving as such if the demand for housing can be met by redeveloping existing residential sites, without having to wait for them to relapse into dereliction and so count as brownfield. Such densification of borderline suburban areas such as ours will also bring in more new clients for our existing pubs.

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Cheeky


Posts: 215
Joined: May 2009
Post: #7
19-05-2014 09:31 AM

I see your point Michael, however, the previous owner was old school, did nothing to attract the changing demographic of the area and used the back yard for nothing more than a place for his dogs to do their business. New owners would have made a difference. I appreciate the owners are now (or may as well be) Antic so I guess they know better than me so hey ho.

For me it would have meant a pleasant long walk, avoiding all main roads, finishing off at a welcoming possibly child friendly pub. I appreciate I need to try the all new Railway Tavern but as you may gather, I did have a soft spot for that place and its potential.

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BringOutTheCranston


Posts: 81
Joined: Sep 2013
Post: #8
19-05-2014 10:00 AM

Not sure whether you support turning the Kent House Tavern into housing or not but it was a dreadful pub. When we moved to the area I spotted it and thought that it looked like a nice pub but on arriving one Saturday evening I took one look inside and left promptly.

I looked it up on "Beer in the evening" and found one of the best pub reviews I ever read "Nice Saturday afternoon, perfect for a pre-dinner beer. Spotted this nice looking trad pub while on a run so wandered over to enjoy a cold one. Considering we were almost alone in the bar, it was an impressive feat that we were made to feel quite so uncomfortable."

If it's closed down then good riddance to it.

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Cheeky


Posts: 215
Joined: May 2009
Post: #9
19-05-2014 10:13 AM

Yeah, not really getting my point Cranston.

....I agree with your initial description of the place it once was however

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #10
19-05-2014 06:18 PM

BringOutTheCranston - not sure if you're familiar with the long and painful exchanges on this site and others between Michael, other posters and me on the subject of housing, but I'm really trying not to go there.

But to answer your question ... in an ideal world I'd love the Kent House Tavern to stay as a pub, maybe a local gastro pub, given that there are some really nice houses in the area. But it's not an ideal world, and I'm not interested in pretending it is, so I'm not going to be supporting any campaigns to save the Kent House Tavern.

This post was last modified: 19-05-2014 06:19 PM by Tim Lund.

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