The Catford Bridge Tavern threatened with closure

The Catford Bridge Tavern is under threat of closure. Since pub group Antic took over the pub earlier this year, the place has been transformed from one of the area's problem pubs in to one of Catford's best assets.

Now, the freeholders of the pub have submitted a planning application to turn the rooms above the pub in to flats (fine) and the pub itself in to retail (disaster).

There are a number of reasons why the Council should listen to the recommendations of its own Sustainable Development Committee and pull out all the stops to save the Catford Bridge Tavern.

Firstly, good local pubs improve the quality of life for residents - an important part of the mix for any successful community. Catford is famously short of pubs - its development having been influenced by the temperance movement - and this is arguably the best in the area. If the plan goes ahead, an important amenity will be lost.

Secondly, and ironically, this would damage local retail. Catford is not short of retail, it has a surfeit. The Council is struggling to make the retail centre a success and its only hope to do so is to marry the shops with a range of high-quality leisure options to attract and keep shoppers in the area. The loss of the area's best pub would be a major setback.

Thirdly, it would send a signal to pub freeholders across the borough that the Council does not value its pubs and will not protect others from further development. This is a chance to draw a line in the sand and support a company that has perhaps done more than any other to make Lewisham a better place to live.

This application is a text book illustration of the problems facing pubs in the area. The pub itself is now a success, but the freeholders have a strong incentive to let it close - the residential properties above the pub would be worth more with retail on the ground floor. Given that average house prices in Lewisham are nearly eight times the average salary, it would be no bad for thing for the borough if the flats were more affordable.

The Catford Bridge Tavern team believe their position is precarious and plan to mount a campaign to persuade the Council to help them. It goes without saying that their customers will support their petition, but anyone who cares about Lewisham's pubs should do the same.

The campaign will launch next week - we'll publish the details then.