Response to Questions on Funds

On Facebook the other day (13th November 17:42)  Rushmoor’s Empress Ward Councillor David Clifford, made a statement asking the following questions:

I would be very interested to know how much the group has raised from the public and what you intend to do with the money? Would you be interested in investing in a live music venue in Farnborough elsewhere in the town? Who are the members of the committee that look after the funds?

I made a statement on behalf of the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, stating the following: Continue reading


An open letter to McDonald’s regarding the Tumbledown Dick, Farnborough, Hampshire

22nd October 2013

Dear McDonald’s,

As planning permission for your outlet has been approved by Rushmoor Borough Council recently, it is likely that you are now in the process of formally becoming the owner of the freehold to this property. We hope that unlike the previous owner, you recognise that with ownership, comes responsibility.

The awful neglect shown to a building that has stood in the heart of Farnborough for many generations and the campaign to save it has encouraged many people to explore this history much more thoroughly than ever before. As a result, we now know a lot more about the development and use of the building through the years. However, the refusal by Bride Hall to allow any physical access to the building for verification of facts, accurate dating and survey of locations that could yield historical artefacts has epitomised the plight of history in modern Farnborough and indeed the UK.

McDonalds has made a lot of statements about being both a ‘friend of the community’ and a ‘good neighbour’, and therefore we ask that you to start living up to these promises by allowing survey work to be conducted prior to any demolition work that may happen and to share any finds uncovered in the process of demolition. This could allow the community you have descended upon to answer a few more questions about their past before you destroy it forever.

We would be grateful if you could make a public reply to this reasonable request.


Friends of the Tumbledown Dick

McDonald’s Planning Granted

On Wednesday 9th October 2013, the planning application by McDonald’s to turn the  Tumbledown Dick pub into a fast food outlet was looked at by Rushmoor Borough Council’s Development Control Committee. RBC’s planning department advised that the plans be granted. The DCC discussed the plans and, after nearly an hour of mixed statements from councillors on the committee, the planning application was indeed granted by 7 votes to 3 as some of the valid material planning objections were seemingly swept aside as being almost irrelevant.

Without commenting, here is the video of the meeting:

Date Valid 26th July 2013
Expiry date of consultations 10th September 2013
Address Tumbledown Dick Hotel, 227 Farnborough Road, Farnborough

Summary – Rebuttal by Friends of the Tumbledown Dick

Page 23
• The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick have co-ordinated and sent in a paper Petition containing 1411 signatures and an Online Petition containing 3042 signatures.
In total The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick supplied Rushmoor Borough Council with a hardcopy and online Petition with 5,134 signatures after 106 were removed for being incorrect.  This 5,134 represents 5.22% of Rushmoor’s overall population.  It is important to note these correct and non-aggregated figures.
Page 26
Cllr Barbara Hurst (St John’s Ward)
    • Cllr Hurst states: “Both are in marked contrast to the standards that prevailed formerly”
There is no evidence that the Tumbledown Dick was a source of anti-social behaviour. Local newspaper articles from the time highlight the community work that Staff did, and how well received their efforts were. Crime figures from the time do not reflect that the Tumbledown Dick was the source of such prevalent low standards of hygiene or anti-social behaviour implied by Cllr Hurst.
• Cllr Hurst comments on “the lack of historical/architectural interest in the existing building”
At no point has any archaeological investigations been undertaken by either the owners, leaseholders, Turley Associates or Rushmoor Borough Council to firmly refute that the original 1640 is not incorporated into the organic building that is currently on site, having grown and added to with each passing century.
It needs to be noted that Councillor Hurst has previously been quoted in the local papers saying she believes the building holds no historic merit and she is clearly bias.  Her other role as Secretary for The Farnborough Society is in direct contrast to these statements, she has publicly stated that she would prefer a purpose built venue and would therefore never be in support of our bid to save the Tumbledown Dick.   Despite her comments relating to the lack of historic merit of the building, Council should note that even McDonald’s own Historic Building Assessment states “there seems no reason to doubt that a public house has stood on the site now occupied by The Tumbledown Dick since at least the late 17th Century.  It appears in Ogilbys Britannia in 1674 and in 1686 it is recording as having 5 bed and stabling for 5 horses.”
The assessors accept that it is technically possible that the original building shown in Thomas Rowlandson’s painting dated 1782-84 to be present to this date and now known as Building 1.  No archaeological tests have been conducted by ANY party to disprove this.
 Page 39
• Policy CPI of the Core Strategy – Point of relevance are to permit to development which make efficient use of resources, including buildings, considerations of climate change, no substantial harm to, or loss of significance of, heritage assets and the use of sustainable construction methods and waste minimisation. The re-use of building/site consistent with Policy CP1 relating to making the efficient use of buildings.
By demolishing the original stable block, the back section and outer buildings the applicant will be in breach of CP1 by causing substantial harm and loss to a heritage asset that is a Building of Local Importance!
• The applicants have indicated that the current lease lasts for another 10 years and from the submitted Planning Statement infer that there is little prospect of the facility re-opening during this period if planning permission is not secured.
This veiled threat is unacceptable and should not be consider in the planning process. How can the Planning Department allow an internationally registered development company to bully them into doing the wrong thing? This is not a material planning consideration and should not be included in the assessing report as it is prejudicial to the process.
The Development Control Committee are not allowed to be swayed by matters relating to Commercial Leasehold and Freehold decisions, and it is highly inappropriate for this to form part of the Officers recommendations as it breaches the Council’s legal obligations, particularly as this is a Heritage Asset.
• Farnborough Town Centre SP4 – supports the diversification of uses outside the primary shopping area.
The area of the Farnborough Road that the Tumbledown Dick is sited on already has a plethora of fast food and take-aways. An additional take-away in this area is not diversification.
• The proposal will bring back into use a long-term vacant unit.
The Tumbledown Dick is not a long term vacant unit, but a heritage asset that in addition to publican services provided dedicated live music venue, hotel accommodation and staff housing.
• A minimum of 65 jobs
These jobs are varied but will be part and full time, with zero hour contracts and the minimum wage. This should be unacceptable and as a minimum all staff should get the Rushmoor Living Wage.  Whilst McDonald’s make much of the new 65 jobs to be created, they make no mention of the loss of jobs elsewhere as a consequence of this development, in particular the take-aways opposite which are for the most part family run independent businesses.
Page 40
• Considered to be consistent with Core Strategy Policy SP4
This is not a fair representation as this relates to vacant retail outlets and not homes, pubs and hotels!
• Core with a broad range of shops and services and to encourage the development of the evening economy.
As a business aimed at families with young children, they will not be utilising the proposed development in the evening, thereby reducing the possible evening economy. A large drive through will not create an evening economy!
• The SPD key principles are:
o create a route leading from the station to the town centre and beyond which is attractive and safe to pedestrians to use
o to provide new housing in a location which is well placed to take advantage of its proximity to the town centre’s shops  and facilities and the transport interchange.
By demolishing and changing the use of the current building, there will be a breach in this policy as you will be removing housing options and creating an area with more cars and likelihood for additional accidents especially to pedestrians.
• Paragraph 70 of NPNF considers community facilities – “Guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs”
By demolishing the only live music venue in Farnborough, the Council will not be guarding protecting the residents of Farnborough day-to-day needs and are in fact placing the health and wellbeing of said residents in danger.
Page 41
• There is little justification current site holds value as a service/facility that meets day-to-day needs.
The campaign to protect the Tumbledown Dick and bring it back into community use, highlights the value the community of Rushmoor places on this site/building.
• This would suggest that the day-to-day need, in respect of a public house function, can be met elsewhere.
Yes the needs are met with regard to pub function but Farnborough doesn’t have a dedicated live music and function room, the Tumbledown Dick was and is the only one in the area. Therefore the full needs of the community are not being met as inferred in the assessing report by the Planning office.
• As a Local Authority, the onus should be on us to promote opportunities for meetings between member of the community, and the proposed use of this site as a restaurant in the town centre would go some way to achieving this.
A McDonald’s Drive Thru Restaurant is not conducive to meetings, as a fast moving site it is expected that the turn around of tables will be high, so that profits can be maximised. People will not be able to meet with friends over a coffee for long periods of time nor will business people think it’s a suitable venue to conduct meetings. It is preposterous to suggest that a McDonald’s restaurant can aid the council in meeting its legal obligations to provide meeting facilities and as such this should not have been included in the Officers report in support.
• The Glossary definition of a community facility within the Core Strategy is written in a flexible manner in that it does not provide a definitive list. (please read full paragraph)
It is unacceptable that the Council’s Planning Officer has not conducted the relevant tests with regard to the Tumbledown Dick. This facility was not just a pub as stated but also a dedicated live music venue with accommodation for staff and customers alike, who were in the majority of cases those most in need or vulnerable within Rushmoor. We ask that the Development Control Committee seek to have the relevant tests applied to the Tumbledown Dick prior to hearing the planning application.
Page 43
All of page 43 refers to the Asset of Community Value status and the Community Right to Bid.
It must be noted that the Localism Act is a relatively new piece of legislation with many test cases being reviewed and no set precedents to date. Therefore legal opinion can be divided and different elements of the Act open to interpretation by different legal advisors.
The community Right to Bid is a separate to Asset of Community Value status. We accept that the Community Right to Bid cannot be enacted at present and that if the moratorium period does become applicable that the owners are under no legal obligation to sell to the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick or indeed any other community group.
However noting a building as a Community Asset is a separate issue. RBC has listed the Tumbledown Dick after following their due process and applying the criteria detailed within the statutory instruments of the Localism Act. This was not done so lightly and legal advice was sought at the time. It is unfathomable that now whilst fighting the Owners appeal with the First Tier tribunal, that a Planning Officer can say that there is little weight to the Asset of Community Value status.
The strength of feeling surrounding the Tumbledown Dick, the numerous objections, the petition and the on-going campaign to save the building all highlight that it IS an Asset of Community Value, much wanted by the Community of Farnborough and wider Rushmoor.
The Community Right to Bid needs to be reviewed separately to Asset of Community Value.
In addition to date the council have made no policy decisions detailing Assets of Community Value and whether or not they are material planning considerations. This should have been done when RBC put the relevant policy and process in place, as per the Guidance issue by DCLG in October 2012.
Therefore the statement from the Planning Officer :
“In light of the particular circumstances relating to this case, it is considered that little weight should be given to the ACV designation in determining this proposal” – page 44
Is irrelevant and prejudicial, as the council has not published its policy, nor consulted on whether or not ACV status should be a material planning consideration. And in this case it is clear that the Tumbledown Dick is an Asset of Community Value and as such should be afforded protection.
Page 43
In addition the planning officer states:
• The current owner of the site has indicated that, aside from the proposed sale of the site to the applicant, it has no present intention of selling it upon the basis that the existing lease of the site does not expire until 2022.
Much has been made at previous Development Control committee meetings that the Council cannot interfere in commercial Leasehold and Freeholder matters.  Therefore it is highly unacceptable that the Planning officer should seek to sway the Development Control Committee by inferring that unless they accept and grant this development, the building will remain as is with no prospects for the foreseeable future.
Page 44
• The Conservation Officer has been consulted on this application and confirms that there is a presumption in favour of the conservation of heritage assets. The conservation thereof should be in a manner appropriate and proportionate to the significance of the heritage asset.
Whilst we applaud the Conservation Officer for their views, we are astounded that RBC are so willing to overlook the evidence regarding the heritage importance of this building. Much has been argued on all sides about the age of the building, but none disputes that a public house in various incantations has been on site since the early 1600s. Indeed this predates most of Farnborough which grew up around the site. As such a proper archaeological survey should take part on the site and within the building to correctly date it, so that we can satisfy the people of Farnborough and the Council alike that this IS one of the most important heritage sites/buildings in Farnborough and should be protected from demolition.
 The Tumbledown Dick has been recognised as being important historically locally, English Heritage acknowledged that although it didn’t meet the stringent criteria for national listing, that they had no doubt that it was significant to the history and people of Farnborough.
Page 46
• The existing building and site are not considered to make a positive contribution to the character of the area.
It must be noted that the Freedom of Information request received from the Council by the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, shows that since its closure in 2008 the owners and leaseholders have continually and wilfully ignored any attempts by RBC to get them to maintain the building to an acceptable standard. In many instances both freeholder and leaseholder claimed the other was responsible but neither took any steps to rectify the situation.
It is unacceptable that this heritage asset can be penalised for the wilful neglect that is has suffered over the years and as such the statement by the planning officer to this affect should not be considered.
Page 47
• Many objections have referred to the impact of litter on the environment.
McDonald’s have assured the Planning Officer that they conduct regular litter patrols and that these patrols, along with rubbish facilities, have alleviated any material planning considerations.
Over the last few months we have been gathering evidence to show, that despite litter patrols and sufficient rubbish bins at Farnborough Gate, there is a significant litter problem which necessitates rat traps and other pest control measures. In addition our evidence shows that litter is not just discarded in the immediate vicinity but also further afield.
Increase in litter and associated pests will be an issue to the Town Centre if this development is allowed to go ahead.  Pictures below illustrate Litter found at Farnborough Gate McDonald’s after the Litter Patrol has taken place.  We have hundreds of similar photographs from all over Farnborough.
Page 48
This page relates to noise. It must be noted that over the last three months the Development Control Committee have green lighted several developments that will substantially increase the ambient noise levels in the town Centre, on the Farnborough Road and along Victoria Road. These ambient noise levels will increase both during the day and at night.
Page 49
• The Council’s Care and Cycle Parking Standards SPD require a maximum of 53 parking spaces for a restaurant of 264.9m2 (on the basis of a maximum of 1 space for 5m2 of dining area).
The proposed restaurant will have 34 spaces, with two of those being allocated to grill bays and not useable at all times. Therefore there will be 32 parking spaces including 2 disabled bays.
Parking is an issue and despite the Planning Officer noting there is a multi-storey car park next door, it has to be noted that potential customers wishing to use the proposed development will not pay to park to grab a fast meal.
In the last three months several developments have been green lighted by the Development Control Committee that will significantly impact on the amount of cars entering the Town Centre and the amount of parking required, in all instances the Planning Officer stated that the increased requirement for parking could be met by the Kingsmead Multi-storey and the Sainburys’ Car Park. This assumption means that the Kingsmead and Sainsbury’s car parks will be at capacity before you add in this proposed development!
A proposed restaurant of this size will need minimum numbers of staff and management at all times, but during peak and greater staff numbers. These staff will need parking, as many will be travelling to and from work by car or motorbike.  In this case if we presume 20 staff minimum with 55% needing car-parking at any point, a further 16 spaces will be taken up by staff alone. Leaving only 16 spaces including the 2 disabled bays!
In the Highway Comments from Rushmoor Borough Council contained within McDonald’s Traffic Assessment it states:
“The proposal is for a restaurant with a dining 315m2 and a drive thru kiosk and pick up point.  Our parking standard would require for the size of the restaurants the car park to provide 1 car parking space for every 5m2, therefore a car park with 63 spaces is required.  The site layout provided gives a car park with 30 spaces plus 2 disabled spaced is proposed.  This is not sufficient.
The site layout shows a potential route for pedestrians from the adjacent Sainsbury’s car park which would give the linkage to the town centre that has been encouraged during pre-application discussions, however I would not expect it to be acceptable to consider this (which is not certain) as alternative parking for this facility.”
HCC also stated in the same Traffic Assessment:
“The new layout does result in a reduction in the number of parking spaces when compared to the previous layout and an assessment of the likely parking accumulation will have to be considered understand whether this is acceptable”
• Further to this it can be expected that a significant number of trips associated with the new McDonald’s restaurant and drive thru will be by vehicles that are already on the network.
If there are going to be no new journeys or vehicles on the road even after opening the proposed restaurant, surely this shows no demand for it and that those already on the network can be serviced by the facilities already in existence at Farnborough Gate?
Page 53
• It is some 570 meters walking distance to the closest school.
According to Google Maps it is 0.2 of a mile driving distance from the Tumbledown Dick to the gates of St Peter’s School. In addition our own walking calculation shows it to be 389m utilising recognised routes and crossings. It is therefore recommended that the Development Control Committee review the Planning Officers statements is a questioning manner.
Government guidelines state that Fast Food outlets should not be allowed to be opened within a 400m distance of a school or nursery facility.
• Therefore recognising that healthy eating may be a material consideration, in this case it is considered little weight should be given to this issue in respect of this proposal.
It is unacceptable that the health and well-being of the people of Farnborough is not a material planning consideration and that it is acceptable to ignore them.
• The NPPF also advises that planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve places which safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion.
There is much said locally about the anti-social behaviour that takes place at Farnborough Gate, namely the congregating of cars and young people, playing their car radios loudly, revving their engines and generally making a nuisance. Many in the community are concerned that this activity will move to the proposed restaurant with a Town centre location, making it a worrying place and somewhere they would feel intimidated and fearful.  By allowing this proposed development, you will be creating an atmosphere in complete contradiction to the NPPF.

How to Object to McDonald’s Planning Application and Save the Tumbledown

Let’s make this perfectly clear from the start: The campaign to save the Tumbledown Dick is about saving one of Farnborough’s oldest buildings, restoring it to its former glory and returning it to serve the community in an inclusive, culturally and socially beneficial manner.

McDonald’s want to destroy everything but the front wall of the building and then build a drive through fast food outlet around the back. We need to return the heart of our community, serve good beer, wholesome food, put on live music & events and make this place of true benefit to the locals and not some faraway big business overlords and their shareholders.

So, if you want to object to McDonald’s planning application and save the Tumbledown Dick as a thriving cultural focus for future generations, then read on…



Proposed Operating Hours will be 6am until midnight 7 days a week

The consultation period to submit objections ends on 6th September 2013. What impact will this have on Farnborough, traffic, litter, noise, anti-social behaviour? Here’s the headlines – if you wish to object you must use material planning objections based on National or Local Planning policy or your objection will be ignored; unfortunately writing to the council saying you don’t want it is not enough, you have to give strong planning reasons.

Thousands of local people are against this development but it could happen unless enough people contact the planning department objecting! Not only does Farnborough already have a major drive-thru McDonald’s only 1 mile from this site at Farnborough Gate, but it will mean the partial demolition of the building which dates back hundreds of years and is one of the few remaining historical buildings in the town. McDonald’s are proposing a 2 storey site (with soft play centre to encourage children and families to eat there). Due to the limitation of the site in terms of size and shape, there will only be 30 parking spaces and drive-thru lanes with 11 cars able to queue through the drive-thru at any one time. During peak periods it is inevitable that traffic will tail back onto the A325.

There is a community campaign to save the building being run by Friends of the Tumbledown Dick who have nominated and obtained an Asset of Community Value (ACV) status on the building and site. This means we can bid on the building to buy it to retain it as a community pub and music venue and restore and utilise the building for the benefit of the people of Farnborough as a cultural and social meeting place. We will only have the opportunity to bid if the planning is refused and McDonald’s withdraw from the sale.

Please urgently email the planning department at Rushmoor Borough Council using the email address: [email protected] saying you wish to submit a planning objection quoting the planning reference: 13/00512/FULPP (please feel free to go online onto Rushmoor Borough Council’s website and review all 44 documents submitted by McDonald’s for this site).

Please include your name and home address when objecting.

You can object on the following grounds:


  • The Tumbledown Dick is a locally listed building and an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and is therefore a ‘Heritage Asset’ which means the planning committee must conserve the impact of development and great weight should be given to the asset’s conservation. McDonald’s propose to keep only the façade but demolish the rest of the building, this is unacceptable.
  • Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect by the owners (it has been wilfully neglected) the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision


Request that the Council support their decision to approve the building as an Asset of Community Value by making this a material planning consideration. The building is also “locally listed” as a building of local importance.


  • Queuing traffic causing potential tail backs onto a main arterial route between two of the busiest roundabouts in Farnborough could be dangerous, as drivers exiting the Pinehurst Roundabout may have to slow down or quickly change lanes to avoid the queuing traffic for the drive-thru. This could be dangerous and may lead to accidents.
  • Deliveries to service the site will be carried out by large articulated lorries, due to the limited space on the site, the tracking shown in the plans mean the lorry will have to block 7 parking spaces plus 1 disabled space during their deliveries (potentially blocking parked vehicles for up to an hour). To exit the site, the articulated lorry may have to carry out a very difficult manoeuvre and go over both lanes of the A325 dual carriageway. This could lead to accidents or traffic delays.
  • Parking – there are insufficient parking spaces for the site and size of the 2 storey restaurant proposed. This will lead to further traffic queues and is not in keeping with RBC’s requirements for 63 spaces minimum as only 30 spaces are proposed.


Unfortunately Rushmoor has a rising obesity problem (it is above the national average in children of Reception Age and Adults), should the council approve yet a further fast food outlet, especially one aimed at families due to the soft play centre? This is a national and local planning consideration.


The constant hum of traffic processing through the drive-thru lanes 12 hours a day 7 days a week, is going to cause more traffic noise and pollution in a zone already at the high end range of pollution. It could also lead to a great deal more litter around the area and the Empress ward, plus may increase anti-social behaviour in view of the experiences at Farnborough Gate. Quote the Rushmore core strategy and the SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) where Rushmoor states they want to provide a “clean and healthy place to live.” There are also planning regulations in the National Planning Policy Framework about Noise & Pollution.


Increase in litter is a material planning consideration as it is a side effect of the development and due to the impact of the Farnborough Gate McDonald’s many local residents are regularly reporting litter spread across a wide area of Farnborough beyond the boundaries of the McDonald’s outlet.  In addition we have evidence that the immediate site of Farnborough Gate, although within the litter patrol areas, is regularly neglected and covered in refuse.

Another McDonald’s outlet in a town centre location will likely significantly increase in litter across the town and beyond as people drive, park up elsewhere and dump their litter.


McDonald’s state this site will create 65 full time but mostly part-time jobs, but any jobs lost in the family-run take-aways opposite due to competition in the immediate vicinity should be mitigated against this. In addition, McDonald’s operate their employment contracts for most members of their ‘crew’ on zero hour contracts, which means they do not have to guarantee any set hours of employment and staff will only be paid for hours worked. Crew staff are paid minimum wage, which can lead to continued reliance on additional employment or the benefits system. Please include any other material planning objections you wish.



To find out more about our campaign to Save the Tumbledown Dick, please see the links below:



Bride Hall Appeal ACV Status of the Tumbly

We have this week been informed that Bride Hall have appealed the Asset of Community Value (ACV) status of the Tumbledown Dick, to the First Tier Tribunal stage. We are pleased that Rushmoor Borough Council do not agree with this appeal and will be defending their original decision that indeed the Tumbly is an Asset of Community Value.

It is most interesting that Bride Hall are going to such lengths to remove the ACV from the Tumbly, despite the local council agreeing that this building is important to our community.

We will keep you informed of the process and we are pleased to inform you that the Judge handling the case has instructed that the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick be offered the opportunity to link with RBC in the defence of the ACV at the hearing. This is new legislation, we are learning as we go, but we are very hopeful that the ACV will be upheld.

Our Council have UPHELD the decision to retain the Tumbly as an Asset of Community Value !!

List your local - Tumbledown Dick pub retains status as Asset of Community Value (ACV)The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick are delighted that the attempt by Bride Hall to negate the importance of this historic pub and music venue to the community of Rushmoor and in particular Farnborough has been muted by Rushmoor Borough Council.

The Tumbeldown Dick is indeed an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and one that we are fighting hard to protect for future generations. This latest development only reinforces our commitment to securing the site and reopening it as a community pub, run by the community for the community.

Much is being made about the figures quoted by Bridehall, a Bermuda registered corporation. The Friends believe that these figures are greatly exaggerated and are aimed at putting off potential investors as well as us. Indeed the District Valuer has some time ago valued the property at £1.5m However this previous valuation did not take into account the current level of willful neglect by the freeholder and the leaseholder. The leaseholder has already agreed to surrender the lease thereby removing this financial obligation. Bride Hall in their submission regarding the ACV review showed their greed and their disregard for our community by stating that they would willingly leave the Tumbledown Dick fall to further ruin if they were unsuccessful.

The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick are resolute in our commitment to seeing off the purchase by McDonald’s and ensuring that the building is re-opened and used again.

The documents are available (in full) for viewing here:

Our Rebuttal (our response to RBC regarding Bride Hall’s arguments to overturn the ACV)

RBC’s document to uphold the ACV:

NB: We are very pleased that the local council not only listed the Tumbly as an Asset of Community Value but also upheld the ACV too. For any campaigners looking to save their own pub we suggest that you take a look at the CAMRA “300 challenge” to list your local too.

Tumbledown Features in CAMRA’s News & Ale

I was in the Prince of Wales the other night, chatting with random locals, as you do, when I was handed a copy of the local Surrey/Hants Branch of CAMRA’s News & Ale magazine. The feature that I was supposed to read was about the rise of microbreweries in Ireland but, as I thumbed through the rest of the mag, I spied this little number:

CAMRA's News and Ale - Fight to Save the Tumbledown

Here’s the full transcript:

The Fight to Save the Tumbledown Dick

By Fran Beauchamp

Driving past the landmark heritage building along the main Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hants, back in October 2012, the Tumbledown Dick Pub was a very sorry sight indeed. A once thriving public house, hotel and live music venue it had been closed by the brewery since 2008 and had been left to fall into semi-dereliction by the leaseholders, Spirit Pub Company, and no action to intervene had been taken by the freeholders, Bride Hall, a wealthy firm of city developers.

This building means a lot to the people of Farnborough, afterall it has been standing since before Farnborough was even built and served as a Coaching Inn and Posting House, from the days of highwaymen and long and dangerous journeys from London to the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth by coach and horses. The Tumbledown Dick was a stopping place of safety for passing travellers and eventually a town sprung up around it. Over the next few hundred years, the building was used by the Army for passing out celebrations, by the gentry as a nice hotel, by the Masons who formed masonic lodges within it and of course by local people. This changed again in the 20th Century when local people used the venue hall on the side of the pub to host live music nights and The Jam played here 13 times in 1975 just before they were signed. Not only The Jam, but also the Buzzcocks, the Vapors and latterly, bands such as A Hundred Reasons and Reuben.

It also hosted a very popular nightclub on Friday nights called Quarantine which was extremely popular and to this day local people talk about how much they miss the pub and venue for the live music and entertainment it once offered the town and has not been replaced. Plus of course the pub had history, it was unique and we were proud to have it in our town on the main road in the town centre. After it was closed, a lot of people lobbied local council to find out what the plans were for it. Spirit Group said they were going to spend £1million on a refurb, well that didn’t materialise and the pub stayed empty and was eventually boarded up and a sad sight it is on a main road location.

So that day in October, having seen new evidence that all the trees had been cut down, some of which were over 300 years old and new perimeter security fencing had been erected, I felt the site looked as if it was being prepared for demolition. I drove home immediately and started a Facebook page ‘Save the Tumbledown Dick Pub & Live Music Venue’. Within a matter of weeks the page had been shared literally hundreds of times by local people and we had thousands of people involved who supported our campaign to Save the Tumbledown. We put people in teams to carry out Heritage Research, put together Business Plans and formed a committee and called ourselves ‘Friends of the Tumbledown Dick’ and set ourselves up as a Community Interest Company with aims to acquire the building and renovate it as a community run pub and hoped to use the new legislation under the Localism Act to help us achieve this. It was at this point we discovered the pub had been sold to McDonald’s by Bride Hall. This was devastating news and after some research and Freedom of Information Requests with the local council, Rushmoor, we discovered that plans were afoot to completely demolish this heritage building and replace it with a large 2 storey box for a huge drive-thru. We were appalled, not least because Farnborough already has a major McDonald’s drive-thru just over a mile up the road and the town is already suffering from obesity problems and has a considerable number of fast food outlets already, including a number directly opposite the Tumbledown, family run businesses that would undoubtedly be forced out of business if this scheme goes ahead.

We reacted immediately and applied for the pub to become an Asset of Community Value (ACV) with Rushmoor Borough Council which has been granted, however this will not necessarily save the building. The sale with McDonald’s is still in place and if their planning permission is granted by the local planning department we will lose this building forever. We lobbied parliament and our MP Sir Gerald Howarth met with McDonald’s, they agreed to keep the façade of the building but the rest would be demolished and rebuilt to suit their scheme for a 2 storey drive-thru but more in keeping with the existing building.

Sir Gerald is content with this as a result, we however are not, we want to keep our pub and we don’t need or want a 2nd drive-thru in a town centre location. We have already had a couple of large public demonstrations outside the pub and now a rally is being organised on Sat 9 March from The Tumbledown up to the McDonald’s in Farnborough Gate. The Tumbledown is in the local paper nearly every week thanks to our campaigning and we have recently been the subject of a BBC documentary for ‘Inside Out’ due to the amazing community involvement. We are also lobbying council to add the building to their Local List of Buildings of Importance as we are at a loss to understand how such an old and important building could have been excluded.

So at the time of writing, we are now awaiting the final plans to be submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council and we are hoping to lobby council directly to listen to our business plan, if they reject the planning, we will get the opportunity to fundraise and bid on the building as a community group, for the benefit of the people of Farnborough. I don’t think many people can say that another huge drive-thru restaurant will benefit anyone other than the profit margins of an international fast food chain and a city developer, the people of Farnborough will be the losers. As daunting an opponent as McDonald’s undoubtedly are, we will not stand by and watch them destroy this heritage and unique pub and music venue without a fight to the last. Nearly 4,000 Rushmoor residents agree!

Cool huh? You can pick up CAMRA Surrey/Hants Borders’ “News & Ale” magazine from any decent real ale pub in the area or download the PDF version here. Thanks again to Paul Cowper of CAMRA SHB.

Griff Rhys Jones supports Saving the Tumbly

Griff Rhys Jones Supports The Tumbledown

If you’ve ever seen the BBC TV series “Restoration” you’ll be familiar with the format; the show looks at buildings in serious need of repair & funding and votes are cast by viewers over which project to save.

The show’s presenter is comedian, actor, writer and champion of architecture, Griff Rhys Jones, who has a sincere passion for the old buildings on his programme. Griff is also the President of Civic Voice, the national charity that promotes civic pride. When Griff appeared on BBC’s Question Time from the Princes Hall, Aldershot, a few weeks ago he spoke with some loyal supporters of the Tumbledown and exchanged details. Today he asked our chairperson, Fran, to issue this statement on his behalf:

It is a great shame and a pity that such a distinguished, friendly old building on such a prominent site should be allowed to fall into disrepair, simply in order to knock it down and build a drive-through burger bar. Why? The Tumbledown Dick is part of the history of Farnborough. It is the fabric of the story of Farnborough. It has been a lively and exciting place until quite recently. This is a crying shame. It can never be replaced. So come on Farnborough! Get together, speak out and stop the further degradation of your town centre. This is your drawing room. It is not a drive through roundabout. It is the pride and heartbeat of your locality and its time to support the action group here and tell the council and planners that you want to keep the memories alive. Protest. Sign petitions. Make your voices heard and help restore this grand old lady. – Griff Rhys Jones”

Griff joins actor Neil Stuke and MP Greg Mulholland in our list of high profile endorsements and thinks our pub is lovely, so we will certainly be buying him a round or two when we can regain, restore and reopen our historic pub.

So come on Farnborough, get behind us and protect your heritage, save the Tumbledown!

The Tumbledown: Officially a Building of Local Importance

The Tumbledown Dick - Building of Local Importance

The Tumbledown Dick – Building of Local Importance

Yesterday afternoon Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet approved the Tumbledown Dick to be added to the list of “Buildings of Local Importance”.

Our Chairperson, Fran Beauchamp, has issued the following statement:

“On behalf of Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, I would like to thank RBC’s Cabinet and Keith Holland of Planning for today approving The Tumbledown Dick for the Local List of buildings of importance. This is an important and long overdue acknowledgement of how important this building is to local people and means that it becomes a material planning consideration for any present or future owner wishing to make significant changes to it. Our community group has worked tirelessly to save this building from destruction and we can only hope that we will be finally given the opportunity to enact our ‘right to bid’. A good day Rushmoor!”

“To be listed locally, a building must meet only 1 of the criteria laid out in the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). The report provided to the Cabinet from their Head of Planning and the Historic Buildings Officer, highlights that the Tumbledown Dick meets a minimum of 4 of the criteria needed for local listing. Although it is sad that the building did not meet the high standard of criteria for National Listing it is apparent to all that the building and site are an intrinsic part of the fabric and history of Farnborough and more than sufficient to meet local listing requirements, it is just unfortunate that it had not been afforded this protection previously.”

“This is by no means the end of our fight to protect The Tumbledown Dick as Bride Hall, the current owners, have enacted their right to have the Asset of Community Value listing reviewed. This means that the Council now need to review the process and the decision to ensure it was appropriate and Friends of the Tumbledown will be submitting evidence in support of the listing in the next few days. We look forward to also seeing the evidence provided by Bride Hall, a national property developer based in Mayfair, as to why they do not feel that this building is an Asset of Community Value for Farnborough and local people who are fighting to protect it.”

“Friends of the Tumbledown would like to thank the public for their continued support in our campaign, in the face of much adversity. We believe that local people have made a difference in changing the agenda for planning issues in Farnborough and if nothing else, we have proven that the community working together can achieve supportive and fantastic change. We only hope that Rushmoor Borough Council continue to support ours and all community groups going forward as this is absolutely imperative in the overall success of what we want to achieve for the benefit of the community.”

“Finally, we now have in excess of 4,407 signatures on our petition, this is a significant public mandate for our community group aims.”