Campaign to Save the Green Dragon for Winchmore Hill
THE SAVE THE GREEN DRAGON CAMPAIGN
Scroll down for the most recent updates
Mike McClean was shocked when he saw that last orders had been called at the Green Dragon. So he has decided to do something about it. He has set up a campaign to save the Green Dragon, in recognition of it importance as a landmark in Winchmore Hill.
To quote Mike:
The Green Dragon pub in Winchmore Hill has recently changed ownership following a few years of poor turnover and has now been closed and boarded up. The people who have purchased the pub are a company who buy failed businesses and say that they have not yet decided what to do with the building, but the rumours of the building being converted into flats or even knocked down in order for new flats to be built on the site are rife.
We have started a campaign and have set up a Facebook page called Save The Green Dragon to bring together the local community and those further afield who care for the pub so that in the event that the new owners propose the permanent closure or destruction of the pub, we can stand together to oppose this change and campaign that The Green Dragon pub, which has stood on or near this site since 1726 should be preserved and protected.
Is the campaign lost?
Update from Mike McClean
Enfield Council have again rejected our application for The Green Dragon to be listed as an Asset of Community Value.
Once again, despite approving the rest of our application, they have failed us on Step D - Realism of Future Usage - on the grounds that "The land owner has no intention of reopening the pub or selling it to someone who wishes to do so"
What this means is that the developer doesn't want to change his plans and Enfield Council are accepting that stance as a good enough reason for there to be no chance of The Green Dragon opening as a pub again. As far as we can see, this leaves our campaign with nowhere to go.
It didn't need to be this way, we know of currently ongoing cases in Westminster and Camden where the council have made bold policy decisions in order to try to support campaigns to save pubs, we also know of cases where the developer has been defeated despite talking this stance. These cases however require a council who are prepared to put their communities wishes first and are prepared to fight their corner. Ours, it would appear, isn't.
It is terribly frustrating to realise that after all the time and effort that went into completing each section of the ACV, the only question that Enfield Council were interested in was 'What does the developer want?'
Over 4500 signatures, unanimous support from all of Enfield's councillors and the support of local MPs from both major political parties also counted for nothing. If they had granted us the ACV, we could at least have had 6 months to come up with a plan/price/buyer which the developer might have accepted (however unlikely). One of the interested parties involved has done exactly this in the past. Without the ACV or any support from the council there doesn't seem to be anything more we can do.
There are still planning application battles to be fought and we still have plenty that we are going to say to Enfield Council and other parties involved about their conduct in this matter, but as far as saving our pub goes, unless one of you has any ideas on how we can move forward, we are afraid that the battle may be lost.
If that is the case, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved. We have been so proud of our community in the past few months, particularly when we read the messages you sent to the developer in response to their leaflet. This much support should have achieved some degree of success.
The important thing that we have all learnt from this case is that if you want to protect your pub, you HAVE to do it before it is in danger. We now know 2 absolute facts: 1. You don't have advanced warning when a developer wants to buy it, and 2. Once a developer is involved you won't get any support from Enfield Council. The Fox was awarded ACV status because there was nobody to oppose it. Let us as a group try to do this for all of the historic pubs in the area and any others which matter to you, if we don't we will lose them.
Before signing off here, we want to be clear that our frustration at the council belongs to the officers who have made these decisions. The actual councillors who represent us have been very supportive and in a few cases have been outstanding.
Thanks again for all of your support, please let us know if you can see a way forward or if you want to try to protect other pubs in the area.
PR Campaign to 'sell' Waitrose
What has our society come to that we should value convenience food more than community??
Mike McClean urges everyone to post a comment in support of the Green Dragon
The developers who currently own The Green Dragon Pub have, via their PR Company, started to distribute promotional material around the local area which is intended to try and gain some support for their plan to end 300 years of Winchmore Hill history for their own profit. We can only assume that they are doing this because they intend to challenge Enfield Council if they award us Asset of Community Value status, or are intending to submit a planning application soon and want their plans to appear popular.
The developers are trying to ignore the fact that The Green Dragon has been a pub at the centre of our community for nearly 3 Centuries, and are hoping that a fancy leaflet and the prospect of a Waitrose on the site will be enough to persuade us. Waitrose is a nice shop but do we need it? There is a Waitrose 1.5 miles away in Palmers Green and two more not much more than 2 miles away in Enfield.
Another aspect upon which they are focussing is a need for housing, but in recent years Winchmore Hill has seen plenty of housing created, there is the whole Highlands Village development, the flats on either side of Firs Lane on the hump back bridge, the new flats on that same road further towards Green Lanes, the retirement flats where Firs Banqueting used to be, the flats near the petrol station, the site of the old garden centre on The Green and the development on the river on Green Lanes heading towards Palmers Green. How much more does this little area need to give?
The fact of the matter is that none of this is based on a lack of supermarkets or housing, none of this is based on what the people of Winchmore Hill want or need, and none of this is based on what is best for local businesses or anyone else who lives or works in the area. The sole reason for this proposed development is that GLI, like so many other developers who are targeting pubs all over the country, have identified an opportunity to make themselves a huge profit.
Communities are made up of so much more than shops and houses. We need places to come together, to meet friends and make new friends, to celebrate, to laugh, to get to know one another. The people of Winchmore Hill started doing this in The Green Dragon 100 years before the battle of Waterloo!
It is true to say that The Green Dragon had lost some popularity in recent years owing to a lack of investment by a failing parent company, but whilst organising this campaign we have been approached by some big companies who have expressed an interest in continuing to run it as a pub and who would invest huge amounts of money to make it popular again if they were given the opportunity.
The developers themselves seem to know that the closing of The Green Dragon is wrong. They take every opportunity to state that it was closed by the previous owners and not them (they say it twice in this leaflet). Presumably they have some technicality on which to make this claim, but we all know that the pub was serving beer until the end of January and was boarded up by the developer days later.
The Green Dragon is too important to be lost in this way, it should at least have been widely and openly advertised and allowed some time to find a new owner who could run it properly. Look at what time and advertising has achieved at the new Winchmores pub (previously the Chase Side Tavern)
Please take a couple of minutes to contact the developers and make your feelings known at the address above or return their leaflet if you have received one. If this matters to you then please say so. Only our combined efforts can Save The Green Dragon and preserve our history, our culture and our community for generations to come. If we don't all do our bit it will be lost forever
on behalf of the Save The Green Dragon campaign
Application to list the Green Dragon as an Asset of Community Value has been has been resubmitted
More than 150 people made it to Enfield Civic Centre, where Mike and Sharon delivered an Open Letter to Enfield's new mayor Cllr Patricia Ekechi and Enfield Councillors on why it is important that Enfield Planning Department listen to the wishes of local residents and elected councillors.
Ownership of the Green Dragon
The Green Dragon has been acquired by Green Lanes Investments. This is a shell company with no local connection, which is owned by PPR Estates a property development company, based in Holborn. To quote theirr website:
(PPR) is a successful and expanding private property business with a substantial portfolio of commercial and residential properties mainly in London and South East England. PPR Estates' flat business structure facilitates swift investment decisions and our substantial private funding means we can act quickly to secure the best deals. We are known for creating value through hands-on asset management.
On Thursday (14.5.15) following the demonstration, Green Lanes Investments issued this statement through their PR company"
Waitrose in talks to open in Winchmore Hill at site of former Green Dragon pub
GLI have today confirmed that they are in advanced discussions with Waitrose about opening a new store at the site of the former Green Dragon pub in Winchmore Hill.
GLI has also confirmed that the existing building's appearance would be maintained, and that it would not be demolished. Their plans mean much-needed family housing would also be built on the adjacent car park site, with a smaller car park being retained for the needs of a little Waitrose convenience store.
GLI purchased the site as vacant premises following the closure of the pub earlier this year, after the Green Dragon had been in the hands of administrators since June 2014.
Our aim is to bring a popular business into Winchmore Hill, and to offer more jobs and economic activity than the previous use ever did. The extra footfall from a little Waitrose will benefit the other shops in the area. Although it was a shame the previous business had closed, we took over this empty property because we believed the neighbourhood still had a future, and are very pleased to finally be in a position to confirm Waitrose's interest."
Resubmission of the application to have the Green Dragon listed as an Asset of Community Value
On Thursday (14.5.15) Mike & Sharon met with Enfield Council's Chief Executive, Rob Leak and after a night burning the midnight oil, the application was resubmitted the have the Green Dragon listed as An Asset of Community Value.
This will be final submission.
You can add your own comments by registering and posting here
Here are earlier updates
No it apprears that David Burrowes was indeed wrong. This is the statement from Green Lanes Investments, the owners of the Green Dragon
"We recognise that Enfield Council have acknowledged that it was not realistically likely that there would be a pub again on this site within the next five years. When GLI took ownership of the site, the pub had already closed down, having gone into administration in June, and it was no longer economically viable.
Our plan all along has been to keep the site in economic use, providing jobs and services to local people. There have been a number of untrue rumours surrounding the site, but we can confirm it has not been sold to Aldi and it will not be knocked down. We are a long way down the line in discussions with another high-end retail operator that we believe will be very popular with neighbouring residents and future staff. We will make a further announcement when details are available."
Pub closes - member of the public feels it should be saved - 4000 local people agree - local MP agrees - petition is presented to a full council meeting - entire council agrees - developer presents unchallenged submission to planning department - planning department agrees with developer
Is this a stitch up?
Has Aldi bought Green Dragon Pub for £16 Million?
Planning officers of Enfield Council have refused the application to have The Green Dragon listed as an Asset of Community Value, which is the best chance of saving the pub.
The nomination was submitted on March 6th 2015 from the "Save the Green Dragon", described as an unincorporated organisation. The ruling is summarised below:
The asset in question is in private ownership and was formerly used as a pub, which is the actual use that the nominator is applying to have listed as an Asset of Community Value. The nominator states that the Green Dragon Pub has been in existence for nearly 300 years and has been the focal point for the local community in Winchmore Hill.
The pub ceased to operate end January 2015, and the freeholder has converted the pub into a retail unit. This conversion is regarded to be lawful as it was undertaken using General Development Permitted Rights. The freeholder has indicated in correspondence that they intend bringing forward a mixed use scheme, that will include retail and housing. The freeholder also suggests that the pub use was no longer viable
The Evaluation Panel has reviewed the nominator's application and has decided that the nomination is "unsuccessful". While the application passed Steps A, B and C, the application failed in the final assessment step; that is Step D - Realism of Future Usage.
Here the panel considered that following the lawful conversion of the pub to a retail unit, the requirements of Section 88(2)(b) [Localism Act 2011] are not met, namely that it is not realistic to think that within the next five years there could be non-ancillary use of the building that would further the social well-being or interest of the local community.
The evaluation panel also noted that while the nominator was eligible, it did not provide evidence of its unincorporated status other than a declaratory statement. In addition, in Step C, the nominator's supporting evidence was generally considered weak."
It seems very clear that the only submission to which the panel has given any credence, is the developer's own claim that the pub is not viable.
1. How can this possibly be the case when there have been companies in place throughout who have expressed interest in buying it, investing in it, and continuing to run it as a pub?
2..When the ACV application was submitted the Save The Green Dragon group had no knowledge of the parties involved or their history in doing deals of this kind.
3. The Green Dragon had been in administration (as part of the Orchid pub group). Trading had been poor for many years, due to poor management and the fact that the pub had become very run down. How can the Council say categorically that the Green Dragon couldn't be sold on to an operator who could reinvigorate the pub once again?
It is already happening with another former Orchid pub, the Cock in Cockfosters (which reopens on May 1st) and the Willow is being reborn as the Winchmore, opening on June 6th.
4. The ACV application received cross party support from the Council's own councillors. How can Enfield Council's planning officers ignore the wishes of its own councillors?
5. How can planning officers ignore the wishes of thousands of local people who want more time to evaluate whether the Green Dragon could have a future as a pub?
Surely placing a scant board in front of the bar and putting a rubbish pop up shop doesn't make this a shop. The so-called 'shop' opened after the application to have the Green Dragon listed as a ACV.
Mike McClean, who with his wife Sharon set up the Save The Green Dragon group writes
"We are deeply shocked by this decision and are going to have to think carefully about how to proceed (there is no appeals process available to us, only the multi-million pound developer behind GLI would have had a right of appeal if it didn't go in its favour).
This is a major blow to us but the campaign is not dead yet. With your support we hope to vehemently oppose any plans for mixed residential/retail use and for the Green Dragon to remain a public house in the heart of the large geographical area it has served for 300 years.
Although there is no formal right of appeal on for us as the nominating body, Councillors are investigating a process called Councillor Call for Action which requires consideration from elected members of the Council as opposed to the process which has taken place, which is officer based.
We will continue to fight this if we feel that we still have the backing of the community. Please respond to this post with your thoughts on both the verdict and any ideas on how we can move forward. Please also let us know if you are prepared to stand with us if we arrange a protest at The Green Dragon or at the council offices.
23.3.15 - Statement from Green Lanes Investment, which owns the property,
GLI has stated that said it will not knock down the Winchmore Hill landmark. However, it made no reassurances that the site will be re-opened in its previous form. A spokesman for the company said: "GLI want to reassure residents that we will not be knocking it all down. Although the pub business went bust due to lack of trade, GLI bought the site because it is a prominent building in a good location, and feel it could continue to contribute to the local economy and provide jobs.It was important to get it back into use fast, as empty sites like this often quickly become the focus of anti-social behaviour, vandalism or squatters. For the sake of our neighbours and the local business community we could not let that happen, so we are pleased that a new shop has already opened, and hope that it has a successful future."
SO WHY THE PHONEY SHOP?
Mike McClean believes that GLI are playing with words. In response, Mike argues:
"Firstly, what they actually say is 'they do not want to knock it ALL down', I think we can all read between the lines there. They say it will provide jobs but in fact the local people who worked in the pub have lost their jobs whilst the new 'shop' brought its own staff in from elsewhere. They say they saved it from being an empty site but it never stood empty until they bought it and closed it. They speak of wanting protect it against vandalism but the only damage has been by their people to the windows upstairs and goodness know what else in the areas we cant see. And they speak of hoping that the shop has a successful future whilst making plans to turn the site into flats. The whole thing is PR spin and our community cannot be allowed to be fooled by it."
The decision as to whether the Green Dragon can be registered as a Asset of Community Value should be known around the end of April, It has received cross party support so it is likely to be approved.
12.3.15 - is this what this once great landmark deserves?
Mike McClean explains why he has set up a campaign to try to Save The Green Dragon
Friends, we have today discovered some bad news, The Green Dragon pub, Winchmore Hill, is in the process of being fitted out as a shop, and, judging by the look of the shelves through the windows it appears that it will be opening soon. Please don't give up now though, THIS BATTLE IS NOT OVER.
Now at least there is no doubt that the intention of the owners is to develop the building/site into retail or flats. The current 'shop' is not what the owners are planning, it is a temporary use while other plans are made. We now know that unless we do everything we can to raise the profile of this situation and challenge the developers in every way possible we will lose this 300 year institution and quite possibly this magnificent landmark building.
Please, if you are a resident of Winchmore Hill or surrounding areas, don't allow any of your friends or neighbours to be unaware of this situation. So many people we speak to are happily waiting to see what lovely new pub or restaurant The Green Dragon will become and are astonished at the suggestion that it may simply cease to exist. We all have the facility to print these days, either at home or at work. You can download a SAVE THE GREEN DRAGON POSTER HERE
Please print a copy for your window and some more to post through the doors of your neighbours. And please , if you haven't done so already, sign our petition and share it with your friends.
We also wish to forcefully bring this situation to the attention of our political representatives. London Assembly Member Steve O'Connell is the author of a report called 'Keeping Local: How to save London's pubs as community resources'. This is what he had to say about his report:
"The local pub is a great British institution and we should do everything we can to help them thrive in our communities. The Mayor's commitment to help boroughs protect valued pubs from being lost, where it is possible to do so, is an important one. Now London boroughs must take forward these protections into their own local plans, and introduce rigorous market testing and viability tests before any development on pub sites can be considered. Developers should be demonstrating that they've marketed the site for a reasonable amount of time before planning permission can be considered, the pub has been vacant for at least two years, and that any new development does not detrimentally affect the character of the street."
Let us stand together as a community and demand that our voices are heard and that those in power stand by their words. It cannot be right that the wishes of an individual developer should outweigh the wishes of the entire local population.
If you are on Facebook please LIKE and SHARE the page.
If you are not on Facebook you can sign the petition by following the following link:
Over 4500 signatures so far Unbelievable!
Thank you so much to everyone who signed, liked and shared to show that they care. It's been great to see so much love for the Green Dragon being displayed and so many memories of good times and landmark moments being shared.
The more people who get behind this issue, the more likely it is that decision makers will pay attention. Every name added to the petition takes it one step closer to succeeding.
Can you help spread the word about the campaign by sharing it with your friends and family?
If you have any fond memories of The Green Dragon, please post them below
The Green Dragon pub has stood on or near this site since 1726. If you think it should be preserved and protected please sign the petition