The Goat is the last pub standing in an area of Enfield that once boasted several local boozers, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Campaigners are battling to save the last pub in Ponders End as fears grow over mounting closures across the UK.
Ponders End Properties wants to turn The Goat in Ponders End High Street into a restaurant and has now submitted fresh plans to Enfield Council, following unsuccessful attempts to market the venue to pub operators.
If the council approves the change, it will leave the area without a single local boozer. The proposals come amid fears over the decline of pubs nationally, with a report by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) revealing long-term pub closures doubled to reach 485 during the first half of 2022.
Members of Camra are now fighting to save The Goat, which is a locally-listed building. Although the current mock-Tudor structure dates back to the 1930s, the earliest known reference to The Goat was in 1778.
Paul Ainsworth, Camra’s national planning policy advisor, said: “There’s no doubt that pubs are currently facing a perfect storm of rising prices (particularly for energy), reduced customer spending power and staffing shortages. Sadly, we can expect many pub businesses to go under in the coming months as a result of these pressures.
“We’re now starting to see ‘opportunistic’ planning applications to change the use of pubs. Applicants argue that the pubs concerned are no longer viable because of the difficulties facing the trade.
“The message that Camra is trying to get across to planners is that these problems, real as they are, will largely go away as better economic times inevitably return. When that happens, we must ensure that pub buildings haven’t been lost and that new operators can take advantage of something that will never be permanently lost – the British public’s love of the British pub.”
Pubs are protected by several local and national planning policies. The London Plan states that the loss of public houses with “heritage, cultural, economic or social value” should be refused unless “authoritative marketing evidence” shows there is “no realistic prospect of the building being used as a pub in the foreseeable future”. A similar policy is included in Enfield’s draft Local Plan, which has yet to be formally adopted.
Ponders End Properties bought The Goat from brewer Greene King in 2018, and in November 2020 it instructed real estate agency AG&G to market the property. According to a report submitted by AG&G as part of the plans, “no offers were received and no interest was expressed from any existing pub operators, commercial occupiers or community users”.
But Philip Ridley, a pub protection officer for the Enfield and Barnet branch of Camra, has sent a detailed objection to the council criticising the marketing evidence and claiming the change of use would fail to comply with local and national policies.
His objection states that although there allegedly have been no offers for the freehold, “no evidence has been provided that the current pub lease is unviable”, adding that the marketing document “says nothing about the current pub business and its viability”.
Philip also claims that the evidence does not demonstrate that The Goat “is marketing as a pub at an agreed price following an independent valuation”. He adds that the pub “would have to be marketed for sale locally and London-wide in appropriate publications and through relevant specialised agents”.
Ponders End Properties has been approached for comment via the planning agent.
The application to change The Goat into a restaurant can be viewed by visiting the council’s planning portal and entering reference: 22/03816/FUL