Bid to turn last pub in Ponders End into restaurant

Drinkers in Ponders End could be left without anywhere to enjoy a pint, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The Goat is in the heart of Ponders End (credit Google)
The Goat is in the heart of Ponders End, which now has no other pubs (credit Google)

Drinkers in Ponders End could be left without a single local watering hole if a new planning application wins approval.

The owner of the last remaining pub in Ponders End – The Goat, in High Street – wants to turn the building into a restaurant following unsuccessful attempts to market the venue to pub operators.

It comes shortly after the closure of The Picture Palace pub last year and a bid by new owners Tiger Bay to turn the nearby venue into a restaurant.

The Goat is a locally listed building, with the current mock-tudor structure dating to around 1930. According to Enfield Council’s local heritage list, the earliest known reference to The Goat was in 1778.

Publican Angela Clapham, who has worked at The Goat for the past ten years, described the venue as a “traditional pub” and a “local community meeting-place” that serves home-cooked food and real ales, and hosts quiz nights and charitable events.

“It is very diverse,” she added. “We have a really broad collection of people from many different cultures, races and backgrounds. For some of the old boys, this is their only social connection. Women come in on their own for a quick drink. It is a very social environment.”

Philip Ridley, a pub protection officer for the Enfield and Barnet branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “The Goat is a great pub that sells real ale and is the last place in walking distance from Ponders End where you can just turn up on your own, meet local people, socialise and have a meal there.

“There is a popular quiz night there, and it is one of the only places to watch a football match. It would be a devastating blow to the local community if this turned into a restaurant.”

Philip encouraged people to have their say on the planning application submitted by the new owner.

There are a number of Enfield Council and London Plan policies designed to protect pubs and community facilities, which require evidence that the venues have been marketed and that there is a lack of demand for their current use before conversions can go ahead.

Current owner Ponders End Properties Ltd bought The Goat from brewer Greene King in 2018. The company, which is primarily a residential and commercial property developer and investor, subsequently instructed surveyors AG&G to market the pub for sale or to let.

According to a planning report submitted by estate agent Savills, the pub has been on the open market since November 2020 but “to date no offers have been received either on a freehold or leasehold basis”.

The council’s draft Local Plan contains extra policies designed to protect pubs and requires a minimum three-year marketing campaign. However, the report by Savills claims the draft Local Plan “is not sufficiently advanced to be relevant” and argues that the planning application is policy compliant.

Ponders End Properties has been approached for comment.

Meanwhile, Enfield Council has confirmed that enforcement officers are investigating building works at The Picture Palace, which are taking place while the application to turn the venue into a restaurant remains under consideration.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “An application for change of use from a pub to a restaurant has been submitted and is under consideration. Enforcement officers are also investigating the current building works and will take action, if appropriate, in line with the council’s enforcement policy.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has attempted to contact the owner of The Picture Palace for comment.

The application to turn The Goat into a restaurant can be viewed on the council’s planning portal, using application reference 22/01205/FUL.