Fears for future of Mitcham pub, as council rejects ‘special status’ application

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Supporters of a much loved Mitcham pub are fighting to protect it from becoming ‘more flats’ or suffering 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. 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 regulars’ first attempt to secure its ACV status was rejected by Merton council this week, they still believe the pub more than deserves an ACV and plan to follow up with another petition.

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 [the owners] 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 Phoenix Investments, and the fear is that the Windmill may suffer the same fate.

An ACV 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.

The old Burn Bullock pub and car park as it is now (Picture: Merton council)

Ms Sollis 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.

“[Some other pubs] In Mitcham town centre often have punch-ups or things involving knives etc. That is not allowed at the Windmill.”

One supporter, Michelle, said: “Pubs are sadly dying out. 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.”

Despite 249 signatures handed over to Cricket Green Ward councillors, Merton council rejected the petition on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the council 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.

“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.”

Pictured top: The Windmill pub (Picture: Harrison Galliven)

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