Residents fight to save Pub from Demolition

Posted on May 28, 2010 by

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Letter and crest

The plaque for the 1930's pub, and the notice for its demolition.


Photographer: David Smith, local resident

Residents and students have fought against the looming demolition of two pubs on Burgess Road, The Crown And Sceptre and The Gate. The pubs were acquired by the University of Southampton soon after their closures and are scheduled for demolition in June in order to “introduce landscaping to the [campus]” (allegedly to make some parking spaces too). However, the local community feels that their needs have been overlooked and are fighting to keep the Crown And Sceptre. On Wednesday 26th May, with only 2 days’ notice, around 25 residents, previous owners and students gathered outside the pub to protest against the scheduled demolition.

Both pubs used to be free (not tied to any breweries), but the Crown and Sceptre became tied to Carlsberg- meaning it was much more difficult to make a profit- and soon afterwards the Gate was sold to the Punch Tavern, who failed to assess the needs of the locals; this led to the closure of both pubs. The Crown and Sceptre used to be an “anti-student” pub, but when local resident Pat Rogers- who has 19 years’ experience in the alcohol trade- enquired into the price of tending the premises as a drink and food venue for students and locals, day and night, he found that with the brewery ownership it was far too expensive for a single person (i.e. a local) to rent.

Tim Webb, leader of the campaign, who has lived in this part of Southampton all his life accepts that the building is unlikely to become a pub again, even if it is rented out by the University; however he would like to see the building become a community space like a social centre or a university/local hospitality centre. He laments that what were three pubs have become one. The University has said in its statement:

“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…,  Drummond Arms…, The Highfield… and the Stile”.

However, Tim is concerned that there are many elderly former patrons of the Gate and the Crown and Sceptre who would be unwilling or unable to make the journey to one of these further pubs. They could also be intimidated by the clientele of the Stile, which has a significant percentage of students.

Residents outside the Crown

Residents and students outside the Crown and Sceptre

With staff cuts of around 200 employees who will soon be invited to take voluntary redundancy, Halls wardens being replaced, an increase of the International student uptake (to increase revenue), as well as the spending of over £1m on the Highfield Interchange renovations (whose lost parking spaces will presumably be replaced at the site of the pubs), the University spending so much money on acquiring these two pubs and more for “landscaping” for an estimated £2m seems to be a step too far its relations to its neighbourhood.  One resident called the University’s actions “obscenely arrogant”.  There was no mention of the demolition of the pubs in the Universities recent neighbourhood newsletter, and the Blowhole has heard that the Uni has also allegedly obtained the buildings next to campus (including the local co-op store) and is attempting to buy the allotment land behind Broadlands Road.  A resident was also told that the University had allegedly personally approached each pub and offered 10% more than the highest bid to buy the venues.

Indeed, it would seem that the University is mainly interested only in expanding and attracting corporate investment, and not in the interests of the city it occupies.  Just as a global corporation often fails to respect its workers and the environment which its factories occupy, the University seems to be placing its goal of an investment-friendly image above the needs of its immediate neighbours – a place where a community can meet and socialise seems much more important than a few parking spaces.

If you want to learn more about the issue, join the facebook group:

If you would like to sign the online petition against the demolition, go to:

http://www.savethecrown.uk11.net/

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 (the officer handling the application)

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Posted in: Comment, News, Southampton