Locals rally to save community pub from becoming more flats

Share this article

Supporters of a much loved Mitcham pub are fighting to protect it from becoming ‘more flats’. Locals also fear the pub could suffer the same fate as the dilapidated Burn Bullock nearby.
The Windmill pub sits in the middle of the Mitcham Common conservation area and next to Mitcham’s historic cricket club, which is reported to be one of the oldest in existence. Records show that a pub called the Windmill has existed on the site since at least 1847.
However, the imminent retirement of the pub’s long-serving landlady has left regulars fearing for the future of their much-loved local. In response, the pub’s supporters launched a campaign to get the Windmill listed as an asset of community value (ACV).
While the regular’s first attempt to secure its ACV status was rejected by Merton Council this week, they still believe the pub more than deserves ACV status and plan to follow up with another petition.
Speaking to the local democracy reporting service (LDRS), landlady Pat Sollis said: “I have been at the Windmill for 38 years, but I’m retiring in October to the dismay of everyone. When you reach the age of 70 I think you’ve done a fair amount of work. The worry is that he may put the pub up for development and it might then become a block of flats.
“If we succeed in making it an ACV, it will give us more time to find someone who can ensure the future of the pub and that it doesn’t become a block of flats or like the Burn Bullock.”
The former Burn Bullock pub sits only a quarter of a mile away from the Windmill on the corner of London Road, Mitcham. Unlike the Windmill, it has been left to rot in a dilapidated state for over 10 years.
The abandonment of the pub has led to it becoming a fly-tipping hotspot and regularly inhabited by squatters. Both the Burn Bullock and the Windmill are owned by Phonix Investments, and the fear is that the Windmill may suffer the same fate.
The Windmill’s supporters believe that by placing it on the list of Merton Council’s ACVs, it will be better protected from sale or dilapidation. Mitcham History Notes, a community group, subsequently launched its first petition earlier this year to gauge support for it becoming an ACV.
According to Merton Council’s website, ACVs are” a building or piece of land can be considered for listing if its principle use only furthers or has recently furthered their communities social well-being or social interests and is likely to continue to do so. It can include cultural, sporting, or recreational interests and can be either privately or publicly owned.”
The effect of a place being listed means that if the owner wants to sell, a moratorium period of up to six months will be triggered, during which sale is prohibited. This period allows community groups time to prepare a bid before the property goes on the open market.
Sollis told the LDRS about the Windmill’s credentials as a strong community pub, and how it feels a lot safer than nearby establishments.
She said: “For a lot of older people, it’s their place in Mitcham where they like to come because I don’t allow people using drugs, etc. It’s a very comfortable and safe place to be.
“People can come in and leave their wallet and phone on the bar and go to the toilet and come back and they are untouched. When locals discuss the pub, they say it’s the only pub in Mitcham where you can totally relax and don’t have to look over your shoulder and think of what’s happening next.
“The Kings Arms, White Lion of Mortimer, and General Giles Social Club In Mitcham Town Centre, often have punch-ups or things involving knives etc. That is not allowed at the Windmill.
“There are a lot of people who love to use it and a lot of elderly people get great comfort from being able to come there for a couple of hours and chat to others outside of their own household.”
This sentiment was shared by Mitcham residents who took to the Mitcham History Notes website in support of the pub’s campaign to become an ACV.
One supporter, Michelle, commented: Such a beautiful pub that is absolutely spotless clean, lovely pints, great friendly service. Pubs are sadly dying out, the councils need to realise how much benefit they are to the communities whether it be for partying or just a great place to meet up with friends or make new friends and get out of the house.
Another regular, John W, said: “I have been coming here with a mate over the last few years and have recently moved to the area. The pub is a wonderful place to meet people, all of which are very friendly. I have seen numerous instances of the pub raising money for various charities, often with a special reference to a local person or cause.
“It seems to me that many local organisations use the venue to get together both socially and to discuss matters important to them. Fantastically welcoming local venue. May it last forever.”
Dave, the Scout Leader for the 3rd Mitcham Scout Group spoke of how a future without the Windmill could leave his group without their favourite meeting place. He said: As a group of Venture Scouts from the 3rd Mitcham Woodland Way, we have used the Windmill for our annual reunion for the past 30 odd years.
“Although we are spread far and wide between 20 to 30 members still make it each year. Without the Windmill our reunion would probably cease in Mitcham. Let’s make sure that the Windmill becomes and state a community asset.”
Despite this, Sollis feels the support shown by locals is not matched by Merton Council. When asked if she received any support from them, she responded: “None at all.”
She added: “In the last four or five years, they’ve also diverted all of the buses that used to stand opposite the Cricketers, which was a very wide road, and now they all park outside the window.
“The buses even park across my drive. I emailed Merton to get parking spaces for two or three disabled parking bays outside the pub. However, Merton doesn’t want them parking there.”
Mitcham History Notes closed the petition after it received 249 signatures. The petition was subsequently handed over to the Cricket Green Ward councillors who put it to the full council meeting on Wednesday 7.
Despite the 249 signatures and support from Councillors Butcher and Kaweesa, Merton Council rejected the petition.
A spokesperson for the London Borough of Merton said:
‘Unfortunately the initial application by Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage for The Windmill Inn to become an asset of community value (ACV) was rejected.
‘In making our decision, we provided details of why the nomination wasn’t successful on this occasion. We would encourage another application which fits the criteria and makes use of the detailed feedback and request for more evidence we provided. We know how important The Windmill Inn is to Cricket Green residents, and received a petition at Council this week from Councillors Butcher and Kaweesa about this very issue.
‘Merton Council seeks to support local businesses, particularly during the cost of living crisis. If buses are parking outside the pub, we would urge the landlord to contact Transport for London who deal with operational matters for London Buses.’
Photos: The Windmill and Burn Bullock


Get the latest news for South London direct to your inbox once a week.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Share this article