Developer accused of demolishing Sydenham pub pledges to rebuild it

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

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The Greyhound pub in Sydenham will be rebuilt after developers were accused by local residents of demolishing more than planning permission allowed - photo credit Cllr. Chris Best
The Greyhound pub in Sydenham will be rebuilt after developers were accused by local residents of demolishing more than planning permission allowed - photo credit Cllr. Chris Best
A Bromley-based property developer, accused by Sydenham residents of demolishing more of The Greyhound pub than Lewisham Council's planning permission allowed, has pledged to rebuild the venue and ensure it is reopened for the local community.

The Purelake Group, which is working on a residential development on and around the site on Kirkdale in the South London area of the Lewisham borough, had been accused of taking down almost all of the venue despite part of the building coming within the Cobbs Corner Conservation Area.

However Gerry Dowd, a director at Purelake, revealed to BigHospitality that the pub would return.

"That pub will rise again. It suffered extensively from a fire prior to our ownership. When we started doing the refurb it was more extensive than we had hoped. Our fears were, and they were founded, that it was structurally unsound. We kept everything we could but we are rebuilding it - it is not a problem," Dowd said.


Ahead of the announcement from Purelake, local resident and Lewisham councillor Liam Curran had told BigHospitality he had fought for part of the pub to be in a conservation area and was shocked to hear the developers had gone further.

"I thought perhaps a lot of it had been stripped out in places but the whole pub was there. So I went up to look at it myself and I had to look twice because I couldn't believe it. All that was left was the front wall. It is outrageous," he said.

Dowd admitted Purelake had gone further than it had originally intended but purely for structural reasons. Dowd also claimed the pub would be rebuilt with the same materials and Purelake was already in contact with Lewisham Council and would be submitting a retrospective planning application

"We clearly did take down more walls than the original planning permission envisaged. However those walls will be going back up exactly as they were, dare I say brick by brick," he added.


Chris Best, another Lewisham Council councillor, told BigHospitality she was not surprised Purelake were planning to rebuild the pub. She said it was her understanding that the developers had interest from other parties in the site but needed to excavate the basement further. Best said it was 'unfortunate' Purelake had not engaged more and applied for planning permission for this ahead of taking the action.

Best added she had worked with Sydenham Society to ensure any developments in the area met community and heritage needs and was hopeful Purelake, in building any new pub on The Greyhound site, would do the same. She also said she believed a historic tiled corridor in the original pub would return.

A spokesperson for Lewisham Council confirmed to BigHospitality consent had been given for part-demolition and officers had requested an 'urgent structural report and explanation' while considering what further steps to take.

Pub operator Antic had been slated to take over the running of the venue prior to the developer beginning work but had decided it was too small. A spokesperson for Antic revealed to BigHospitality it was now in discussion over a larger site in the area.

Protected pubs

Curran said the pub had been profitable before it was originally closed and the site, which has been home to an inn since around 1720, was sold in 2007.

He argued nearly half of the pubs in the area had gone in 20 years and blamed the high value of residential land developments. Curran also revealed he was hoping to get a council committee to investigate the loss of pubs and planning laws in a similar way to Kensington and Chelsea Borough council which has recently drawn up options for public consultation including compiling a list of pubs to protect from change of use​.

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