The new owners of The Picture Palace want to convert it into a restaurant, reports James Cracknell
Drinkers in Ponders End left with only one pub to choose from are urging residents to object to a bid to turn a former boozer into a restaurant.
The Picture Palace closed it doors earlier this year, leaving The Goat in Ponders End High Street as the area’s only remaining pub. Now, the new owners have submitted a planning application to reopen it as a restaurant.
Among other pubs to have closed in Ponders End in recent years are The Falcon, which has been demolished for housing development; The White Hart, which is pending demolition for housing; and The Boundary House, which was granted permission to be converted into a restaurant earlier this year.
Philip Ridley, a pub protection officer for the Enfield and Barnet branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) told the Dispatch that the long list of pub closures in Ponders End was harming the community.
“In a restaurant, people can’t mingle and congregate,” he said. “A pub is a community asset, whereas a restaurant is just a place to eat.
“For many of my neighbours, The Picture Palace was where they met socially, and a lot of people no longer have a place to meet their friends now.
“It comes at a time when there is an extraordinary amount of development in Ponders End.”
The Picture Palace was known for a long time as Howard Hall and was used for plays and events. It was converted into a Wetherspoon pub in 2001 and was later sold in 2016 to Hawthorn Leisure, which continued to operate it as a pub serving food.
Philip said the pub continued to be a popular venue in Ponders End up until the pandemic, which he believes likely led to its permanent closure and sale.
“Picture Palace was a place where people from diverse communities would congregate on a Sunday afternoon. It is unfortunate the lockdown had a big effect on it, but it was a popular place.”
The Dispatch attempted to contact both previous owners Hawthorn Leisure and new owners Tiger Bay Ltd, but neither responded. However, a note on the door of the pub, written by “Charlotte and The Picture Palace team” says: “It is with a heavy heart that I write this to you; we will not be reopening our doors and our team will not be returning.
“We hope when the doors do open for the next venture here, they treat you with all of the respect you deserve and that you support them as well as you did us. We will miss you all and wish you the best for the future.”
In its planning application for The Picture Palace, Tiger Bay argues that the change of use to a restaurant “does not affect in any way” the pub’s value as a “community facility” and that it therefore “believes the proposed change of use is in accordance with the National Planning Policy
Framework which promotes the retention of the ‘community use’”.
It adds further that the new restaurant “will provide the same type of facility and will maintain
the same level of public provision and accessibility [and] will help to promote the community use, opening the development to a larger clientele”.
Philip argues The Picture Palace was predominantly drinks-led rather than food-led and that the new owners therefore cannot justify their statement that a restaurant would provide the same benefit to the local area.
To submit your views on the planning application for The Picture Palace, visit new.enfield.gov.uk/services/planning and search for planning reference 21/04071/FUL.