Plans to knock down Plumstead’s historic Who’d A Thought It pub refused

Who'd A Thought It pub, Plumstead
Plans to demolish The Who’d A Thought It have been rejected

Greenwich Council officers have thrown out plans to bulldoze a historic Plumstead pub and replace it with seven houses.

A Clapton-based property company, Goldenspark (Timber) Ltd, had claimed the Who’d A Thought It on Timbercroft Lane was unviable.

The Who’d A Thought It was historically known as one of the Five Idlers of Plumstead Common, featured on postcards with the rhyme: “The Star which doesn’t shine in the sky, the Woodman who doesn’t cut down trees, the Ship that cannot sail the seas, the Mill which doesn’t grind corn, and Who’d a Thought it!”

Four of the five Idlers survive, with the Woodman now a restaurant.

The pub also has historic links with Arsenal football club, being once owned by Jock Craib, a chairman of the club in the years before it moved to north London in 1913.

There had been 18 objections to the proposal, with six people writing in support of the plan to knock down the pub and replace it with a row of terraced houses.

Greenwich Council officers found that there was little evidence that the pub was unviable and said that demolishing the building, which is on a local heritage list, would harm the area. Supporters included the pub landlord who said that the pub, which is leased to Punch Taverns, is “in extremely poor repair including the kitchen area which suffers from a roof leak and is no longer fit for purpose”.

But council officers said in their report that a viability assessment dated October 2021, when the country was emerging from the pandemic, was “no longer considered recent or relevant to today’s market conditions”.

Five Idlers of Plumstead Common postcard
Four of the five Idlers still exist as pubs

“Upon a site visit the public house was open and trading, however it is noted from the representations received from neighbours as well as the existing landlord that opening hours are often sporadic due to the poor state of the pub which makes regular opening difficult,” the officers’ report said. “These ad hoc opening hours are not conducive in supporting a successful public house at the site. However, it does show that [the pub] is still in use.

“It is not considered that the applicant has fully explored all options on the site which would seek to retain the public house in a much-improved form which would be a preferable option given the importance the public house could play within the community in the future.”

Council officers questioned why an apparently unviable pub had been up for sale for £1.2m over recent years without a reduction in price. Goldenspark bought the site for £1.1 million in February 2018, according to Land Registry documents.

The officers also said that there had been no attempt to consider reusing the building if the pub was unviable.

The pub is just off The Slade, where Greenwich Council controversially spent £550,000 on creating a new cafe out of a derelict building in 2018 and offered the occupiers steep rent discounts to help them get started. Supporters of the pub’s demolition said the Slade Cafe was a “more suitable venue for socialising for residents”.

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