Plans to convert pub formerly used as a cannabis factory into a Tesco and flats rejected

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter 

A 19th-century pub in Charlton that was formerly used as a cannabis factory has had plans to convert it into a Tesco and a set of flats rejected.

The Planning Inspectorate has rejected an appeal request to add another storey and back extension to the White Swan pub building to provide seven flats with a retail unit on the ground floor.

Planning documents from Jenkins Law, on behalf of owner Mendoza Limited, said it was ‘unrealistic’ for the building to continue functioning as a pub due to the “poor level” of local interest. They added that Tesco had sent a proposal to use the ground floor space of the building after viewing it in December 2022.

The appeal was made after Mendoza claimed Greenwich council took too long to make a decision on the proposal. The authority claimed this was due to the applicant and agent taking too long to provide the required documentation for the scheme.

The pub building has become damaged from squatting and being used as a cannabis factory (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

The Planning Inspectorate said in its decision notice that the applicant initially estimated refurbishment costs for the pub to be £125,000 but later increased this to £400,000. The inspector said no steps had been taken by the applicant to clean or repair the building to increase the potential interest.

Kevin Savage, the inspector appointed for the appeal, noted the damage of the building by squatters following its use as a cannabis farm. A Met Police spokesman said that a visit in September 2023 discovered a disused cannabis factory in the building, including electrical equipment, plant pots and soil left behind.

Greenwich council received a petition earlier this year to restore the White Swan into a working pub with function rooms, having been signed by over 1,200 residents.

Mr Savage said that the company’s asking price when attempting to rent out the property in previous years was not realistic and that an option to sell the building’s freehold should have been made available.

Pictured top: The White Swan pub closed in March 2020 (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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