Local Pub to be flattened by University despite Community objections

Posted on May 21, 2010 by

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The University of Southampton is to flatten two pubs in the Basset area despite efforts by the local community to preserve them.  The pubs are to be demolished on the first of June to make way for landscaping and allegedly car parking spaces in the universities expansion plan, unless the city council intervenes.

The pubs –  The Crown and Sceptre and The Gate, both on Basset Road – have been closed the last couple of years as part of a nationwide trend of local pubs being undercut by chains and supermarket pricing, and have been acquired by the university in order to make space for car parking.   Part of The Gate is a listed building with history into the 18th century, whilst The Crown and Sceptre was built in 1931 in mock Tudor style on the site of an old drinking area.  The pubs have been part of the community for generations, and many residents have been upset to see them closed for so long and now threatened with demolition.  Basset Road has also seen slow degradation over the years, which residents point out won’t be helped by their replacement with a few more parking spaces.

Although campaigners have accepted the loss of The Gate as inevitable, the proposed demolition of The Crown and Sceptre has struck a chord, as it would only create a few parking spaces and some landscaping and many deem it unnecessary to demolish it.  Instead, local campaigners are seeking support from the council and university to keep it open for the local community, with the university as the landlords.  If it can’t be kept open as a pub, it has also been suggested the building could easily be converted and kept either for community use or used as affordable housing.

However, time is running out, with demolition due to occur on the 1st June.  The campaigners are hoping for the council to step in and stop this so that negotiations can take place on the pub’s future.  To this end, they’re asking people to sign a petition against the demolition, join the facebook group supporting them and directly object to the council:

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Ways to object

Write to Planning & Sustainability, Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LY
Quote ref: 10/00510/DPA. The deadline is 31 May 2010.

OR
E-mail stephen.harrison@southampton.gov.uk (He is the officer handling the application)

OR
visit

and click on ‘Submit Comments’, enter YOUR OWN ADDRESS under property search (this isn’t obvious) and follow all of the links – you’ll get there in the end.

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One petitioner sums up the local residents’ feelings:

The Crown and Sceptre pub has been a part of both the local community and university community for as long as we can all remember. It’s an important landmark. It needs to stay. It’s worth keeping and is important for everyone. I am feel confident that the University can find somewhere else so(sic) expand.

If the university wishes to maintain good relations with the local community then it would be commendable if they at least suspend the demolition and enter negotiations.  In a time when so many communities are losing such central social spaces as local pubs, supporting them where possible would be a noble gesture.  As part of wider picture, it seems to reflect badly on the universities priorities in their new corporate strategic direction if they’re so willing to proceed regardless of the local community.  Is it really worth less than some landscaping?

Update:

We have received the following further information from campaigners:

Thank you for highlighting this. Please pass on any or all of the info below to help save the pub
Sign the petition at http://www.savethecrown.uk11.net
Email a message to protest@savethecrown.uk11.net
Text CROWN followed by your name and message to 07786 202 430
Join “Save the Crown and Sceptre” on FacebookIf you would like to distribute some flyers, please email your name and address to petition@savethecrown.uk11.net and I’ll drop some round to you.

The following is a press release from the university:

The University purchased the premises of the former public house known as The Crown & Sceptre, when the site became available for sale last year. The pub had been closed for over a year before the University purchased the site.

Closure of pubs is a nationwide trend reflecting changing social habits.

There are several other public houses in the area which are open for all members of the community to use.  These include the Crown Inn (Highcrown Street), Drummond Arms (Somerset Road), The Highfield (Highfield Lane), and the Stile (Burgess Road). Less than a minute’s walk from the Crown & Sceptre is Swaythling Neighbourhood Centre, which is a hub for the Swaythling communities, including the Flower Roads and Hampton Park areas.

The University is planning to demolish the building on the former Crown & Sceptre site. Our plan to introduce landscaping on the site has the potential to provide a more open and visually attractive eastern approach to the University’s Highfield campus.

It is perhaps a bit presumptuous for the university to tell the community where to go to the pub and where there community spaces are, as considering the extent of the local backlash against the demolition it is clear that residents want this pub and consider it their space.  But at least they’ll have a ‘visually attractive’ approach to the campus – that makes up for it, right?

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Posted in: Comment, News, Southampton