The Half Moon Pub saga took another twist this week when it emerged that the owners of the beloved pub were aiming to remove a “badge of community pride” awarded to the venue.
Supporters of the pub, which has been closed since the devastating 2013 flood in Herne Hill, told the News they were shocked and confused that freeholders Dulwich Estate have asked Southwark Council to review its sought-after asset of community value status.
Peter Blair, chair of the Save The Half Moon campaign group, said: “Most people would celebrate this. It is a badge of community pride, it shows that the community value and love the pub. You want to be a central part of the community and this shows that.”
He said this bizarre move showed the charity, along with new leaseholders Fullers brewery, were determined to eradicate the pub’s live music heritage by the time it re-opens this summer. An asset of community value makes it tricky to change the use of a venue without the support of local residents, so removing it would make Fuller’s planning application to convert the performance area into a kitchen and restaurant easier to obtain.
Peter said the move to remove the status, which was awarded in December following campaigning by celebrities including Jo Brand and Jay Rayner, flew totally in the face of the pub’s history, which has seen stars including U2 and the Police perform.
He said: “Anybody who loves music in London will, at some point, have been to the Half Moon. Its brand is 100 per cent live music. Why would they want to take this away?”
A spokesperson for Fullers said: “We are aware of the challenge to the asset of community value – which is being made by the owner of the pub, The Dulwich Estate. We are continuing with our application for planning permission as we do not believe that the ACV status as a public house is affected by our proposal which aims to get The Half Moon, which has been closed for two and a half years, open as soon as possible and restored to its rightful place at the centre of the local community.”
The council will review the application over the next eight weeks.
Dulwich Estate was contacted for comment but did not respond.