The Tumbly: An Asset of Community Value

The Tumble Down Dick, Farnborough - Now officially recognised as an Asset of Community Value

Update: The Tumbly is now the FIRST ever building in Rushmoor to be accepted as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) following nomination by the The Friends of the Tumble Down Dick. This is a new term from the Localism Bill which means that if the building does go up for sale, The Friends of the Tumbledown (a community group) will automatically be given a ‘right to bid’ on it and be given six months to raise the funds to buy the building… it can not be sold to any other party for that six month period.

The owner does not have to sell to us but it does afford it some protection during that time as it cannot be demolished. However, the deal with McDonald’s is still in place so our battle is far from over! It is vital that we campaign and lobby the public and the council to oppose any planning application submitted by McDonald’s Restaurants.

The Planning application is expected from McDonald’s soon and then Rushmoor Borough Council will arrange a planning review. We are going to be invited to speak at this meeting and at that time it will be VITAL that we engage everyone to object to this. Unless we can derail the planning for McDonald’s the deal will be done and the Tumbly will be lost forever.

Our campaign is now going to focus on the McDonald’s bid in order to gain public support to save the building and oppose McDonald’s. New activities and events are to be announced shortly including new public demonstrations. Keep an eye on this page for news to be announced soon and thank you for your continued support… without it we could lose one of the most important heritage buildings Farnborough has for an Olympic Park sized McDonald’s fast food restaurant.

16 thoughts on “The Tumbly: An Asset of Community Value

  1. Keith

    I would warn do not get over-excited. Rushmoor was happy to sign this off as they see it as a worthless gesture that will have no impact on the McDonald’s planning application.

    Rushmoor has sought legal advice to ram through the McDonald’s planning application. Submit a FoI request for the legal advice received and who from. They will probably claim privileged information. Cry foul to the press, and ask what have they got to hide?

    What was the state of The Tumbledown Dick immediately prior to closure? I ask because I have my suspicions it is being trashed to render renovation a prohibitively expensive exercise if bought as a community asset. Which is why some form of protection listing is now urgent. According to Andrew Lloyd (and his comments cannot be taken at face value) ‘an extensive internal survey, which necessitated the acquisition of protective clothing and masks due to the condition of the building’.

    Do not put all your eggs in the Asset of Community Value basket. Keep hammering on all the other issues. You have Rushmoor on the back foot, that is why they have sought legal advice.

    The focus should not be exclusively on Asset of Community Value.

    It is vital The Tumbledown Dick is listed as a building of local historical importance. It meets the criteria, any building that meets the criteria has to be included. If on the list, it cannot be demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

    It is not on the list. Why? At the very least maladministration. If it is missing from the list to facilitate demolition, then we have misconduct in public office, if not corruption. Both are serious criminal offences which attract a prison sentence.

    The Ship Inn is another very obvious omission from the list.

    On production of the list and related policy, there was not widespread consultation as falsely claimed by Andrew Lloyd. Was anyone involved in the campaign aware of consultation? Yes, a long list of those consulted. Examine the list closely and see a very long list of developers, including St Modwen who trashed Farnborough town centre. Included are the Farnborough Society, who neither speak on behalf of the local community, nor are custodians of local heritage, but do have a cosy relationship with Rushmoor, meet regularly once a month with Rushmoor planners to discuss planning applications. Thus we have those who have a vested interest in destroying local heritage being the very same ones consulted on what to protect. At least explains why the list has so many worthless entries. Oh and the dog’s biscuit is that Lloyd blames the public that The Tumbledown Dick is not on the list, not incompetent, if not corrupt, planning officials. But when members of the public demand it be included, no apology from Lloyd for omission, not added to the list.

    National planning policy requires Rushmoor to draw up a Pub Protection Policy. Has one been drawn up? If yes, has anyone seen it, is The Tumbledown Dick listed? If not, why has one not been drawn up?

    Both Cambridge and Islington have drawn up excellent pub protection policies. They see pubs as giving character, of community value, of importance to the local economy. Both councils have already used these policies to stop pubs being destroyed.

    Cambridge Pub Protection Policy:

    Islington emerging pubs policy (page 70 of document):

    The proposed amendment to the policy is here (page 27-28):

    Topic Paper to justify pubs policy prior to the document examination: (page 25 of document):

    In Cambridge pubs have been brought back into use, including on-site micro-breweries.

    In Cambridge the criteria includes the public house to be marketed for 12 months as a public house free of tie and restrictive covenant, evidence to support diversification options have been explored and proven that it would not be economically viable to retain the building or site for its existing use and it has been otherwise demonstrated that the local community no longer needs the public house.

    In Islington, even if a change of use is agreed, the structure of the pub has to remain, it cannot be demolished. If there is strong community support to retain a pub that is taken into account in rejecting the application for redevelopment.

    Cambridge recognises the importance of a sustainable local economy and it is written into their planning policies. Islington sees the importance of local shops, the part they play in the character of an area, the local economy, and it is written into their planning policies. Both have excellent pub protection policies. What is wrong with Rushmoor?

    From Islington draft policy on town centres (page 61, and onwards):

    The council views the retention of small and independent shops as a baseline and places
    great weight on the need to retain any shops which currently or potentially could be utilised
    by small and independent retailers.

    In conversation with both Cambridge and Islington, I have found to be a breath of fresh air compared with dealing with Rushmoor. Unlike Rushmoor, where all one meets is bloody-minded obstruction, not only do they happily provide requested information, but freely offer supplementary information and documents that may be of use. They have vision, see how important heritage is to a locality, not letting developers do as they please to make a quick buck. In other words they serve their communities, not developers.

    Only yesterday I learnt The Arcade is under further threat from a greedy developer, more local businesses to be destroyed. Last time this appeared before the planning committee, the planners blatantly lied to the committee, fell over backwards to try and push it throw. Luckily councillors showed some backbone and said no. Head of Planning Keith Holland when he saw he was not getting his way, played his joker card, we will lose at appeal.

    It is important the campaign links laterally and shares information, both with other pub campaigns across the country and with local campaigns like destruction of The Arcade and the buildings in Wellington Street, with the consequential loss of local businesses.

    It is worth noting councils spy on critics, and the attempt by one council to force removal of critical facebook comments.

    1. Rossi Post author

      Hi Keith, once again, thank you for your input.

      How do you know that Rushmoor BC have sought legal advice? How do you know that this has been done for the sole intent of ushering in a new McDonald’s when they could have quite easily not allowed the nomination for the Tumbly to be an ACV to go through?

      With regards to the state of the Tumbledown prior to closure, it was OK a week before, when I was last in there, apart from the infamous “moist” floor and the asbestos we didn’t know about. What it’s like now, I do not know – nobody has been in there apart from an alleged squatter and whoever had their tents in there all those months ago. But there is a window open a crack at the front of the building in the first floor and we know there was a hole in the roof, which has now been “repaired”.

      As for not “getting overexcited” or “putting our eggs in one basket” rest assured, Keith, that the Friends of the Tumble Down Dick have more gumption than to just sit on their laurels.

      On the point of the pub “…cannot be demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.” I state the case of Sullivan Cottages, London Road, Camberley. That was a Grade II listed building and yet it was demolished to make way for… a McDonald’s Drive-thru – the blue plaque that once adorned the home of one of he of Gilbert & Sullivan fame, is now nailed to the wall of a fast food restaurant.

      Other than that, it is still worth fighting all these other angles to protect the Tumble Down Dick as much as possible, including our appeal against English Heritage in their decision not to initially list the building.

      I’ll look at those excellent references when I’ve got more time, Keith, but again, thank you so much for providing those.

      And finally, we are already thinking laterally, we are in communication with other campaigners, locally and nationally. We are watching and learning and acting, Keith, do not underestimate the will of 21 people and their combined skillsets.

  2. Keith

    Ask for the legal advice and you will see that it exists. Whether you will get it is doubtful. You may also wish to ask why it was obtained and from who.

    I know of listed buildings that have been demolished, I also know of many more that have not.

    Currently The Tumbledown Dick has no protection, not listed by English Heritage, not on local list, no pub protection policy in place.

    The Tumbledown Dick meet the criteria for a local listing, if council continues to stall, file for a Judicial Review as they are failing to comply with their own planning policies.

    A building or structure will only be added to the Local List if it meets the criteria. If a building or structure meets the criteria there will be no valid reason for omitting it.

    Lack of a pub protection policy is contrary to national planning policy.

    You will find the links useful. The Cambridge pub protection policy is worth altering a few words and sentences and you have one for Aldershot and Farnborough. Once done, hand to all council members and ask that it be approved. I had hoped to do this myself this week, but not had the time. Too busy talking to those who drew it up.

    On cannot be demolished, maybe should be rephrased, it cannot be demolished were it on the list and to comply with the planning policy.

    The Council will seek to protect and retain Buildings of Local Importance whenever possible. Demolition should only be agreed where the replacement is of such a high quality that the loss of the locally important building/structure will be adequately mitigated by a development that enhances the character of the local area.

    I somehow do not think a tacky Drive-Thru McDonald’s enhances the character of the local area or mitigates the loss of a c 1720s coaching inn.

    Obviously anything can be physically demolished. The Victorian Arcade in Aldershot was demolished. The West Pier in Brighton was destroyed in an arson attack (and note the developer). Both had listed status.

    No, I do not underestimate. Your are doing an excellent job. Already seen as a bunch of troublemakers by Rushmoor, which can only be a good thing. I am happy to point in the right direction and highlight what you are not aware of.

    1. Rossi Post author

      I shall look into all those references, Keith, thank you.

      The Victorian Arcade in Aldershot was demolished?! Really?! I can’t believe that. If that’s the case then I’m genuinely gutted. Do you have any photos of what’s left?

      The pub protection policy is something that Councillor Mike Roberts has been speaking about in the Surrey/Hants Borders CAMRA mailing list. I’ve pressed him on the status of the policy and I shall do this again to ensure that it’s kept at the top of the agenda.

      I’m not sure I welcome the label of “troublemakers” but if we are recognised as standing up for what we believe in, for protecting our heritage, defending our culture and for not letting the money-makers bulldoze our interests, then, no matter what that means to other people, be they policy makers or property developers, then that is something to be known for.

      Thank you for your continued insights, Keith, they’re always welcome.

  3. Keith

    Please pass all information to Mike Roberts on pub protection policies from Islington and Cambridge. He needs to ask questions at full council why one has not been implemented, as required to have one by national planning policy.

    Cambridge links are not working (hopefully only a temporary problem) as excellent policy, and has already saved several pubs (much to annoyance of pubcos).

    Anyone who challenges Rushmoor, acts for the local community, is seen as a trouble maker. Wear the badge with pride as it means you are doing something worthwhile.

    Mike Roberts also needs to raise at full council failure to list either The Tumbledown Dick or Ship Inn on local list of buildings of local historical importance.

    Yes, tragic a Victorian Arcade destroyed, to be replaced by a plastic replica. For years sat empty with boarded-up shops, the boards showing the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker. Of recent years small retailers. Last year, a new developer gave small retailers six months notice to quit, trash The Arcade and turn into a large Wetherspoons and Poundland. Planners fell over backwards to try and ram through, but for once councillors showed some backbone and said no.

    Now the shops outside The Arcade and the Victorian (or maybe earlier) buildings in Wellington Street are under threat.

    This would not happen in Islington which recognises the importance of small retailers and the contribution they make to the character of an area and the local economy.

    From Islington draft policy on town centres (page 61, and onwards):

    The council views the retention of small and independent shops as a baseline and places
    great weight on the need to retain any shops which currently or potentially could be utilised
    by small and independent retailers.

    In Aldershot we get Westgate, which has proved to be an unmitigated disaster for Aldershot. In the first week, market traders were in shell shock as they had never had such a bad day.

    1. Rossi Post author

      Hi Keith, I wrote to Cllr mike Roberts last night, providing links to the Cambridge City Council pubs policy. I’ll drop you a note when I know more. Once again, thanks for the input, very much appreciated :)

  4. Keith

    Contrary to what has been stated, fast food outlets is a material planning consideration

    From Islington town centre planning policy (page 65):

    The Government White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health
    in England (2010) identifies that more than 1 in 5 children in England are overweight or
    obese by age 3, with higher rates among some Black and Minority Ethnic communities
    and in more deprived areas. The paper highlights the role of councils in taking action to
    improve public health, including regulating the development of new fast food restaurants
    in their role as local planning authority.

  5. Keith

    National planning policy requires protection to be put in place for pubs (one assumes in recognition of the rate of loss, 18 a week close).

    This is taken from an Islington Topic Paper on retail and pubs that led to their pub protection policy.

    The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in paragraph 70,
    directs local planning authorities to plan positively for the provision and
    use of community facilities such as Public Houses; and to guard against
    unnecessary loss of such facilities.

    .Paragraph 50 of the NPPF places great emphasis on maintaining the
    character and distinctiveness of an area; development is expected to
    respond to local character and history and demonstrate an
    understanding of the defining characteristics of an area.

    page 25 onwards

  6. Louise P.

    When I was a very young child I remember my mother taking me shopping in the original arcade. Also remember the furore when the go ahead was given for it to be demolished, despite being listed and much loved. This proved long ago that no building in Rushmoor is ever safe from greedy developers, even with one of the highest levels of protection afforded it. We need to learn from examples such as this and the others Keith mentions. I have faith, and believe the intelligence and democracy of people power will save the Tumbledown.

    1. Rossi Post author

      We cannot lose our pub, community hub and venue and, even if the façade were kept, it would still be a hollow gesture, pardon the awful pun. Aldershot has really gone downhill since the days when I spent so much time there as a kid. There seems to be zero respect for our architectural heritage and a lot of cow-towing to big business. Let’s all work together to save our pub, our town and our borough from those who care for nothing but to make money from it, Louise.

  7. Keith

    I agree with Lousie, we have seen far too much destroyed, not only of our local heritage, but also of our local shops, small businesses that make a difference to any town.

    Other local councils, for example Cambridge and Islington, are proud of their heritage, of their pubs, their local markets, their shops, they recognise their function in the local economy, their contribution to the quality of life. Unlike Rushmoor planners who get into bed with developers, they build this into their local planning policies.

    As Louise says, local people have had enough of a council in bed with developers, they will not sit idly by and see The Tumbledown Dick demolished, or The Arcade gutted or the shops in Wellington Street demolished and more local businesses destroyed.

    The question is: Are our councillors listening?

    1. Rossi Post author

      Same here, Keith. I want a curry at Zaffron’s not a Beefeater. If I were from out of town I’d stay in a cosy, character B&B not another Premier Inn. I want to have a beer with my friends and see bands at the Tumbledown, not pop into a fast food restaurant which is exactly the same as the other 1,200 in the country.

      I think the tide is turning. Despite working hard and running businesses and raising their families, people are finding time to stand up against the bulldozing of our past which has been going on since, I guess, the 1950s.

  8. Adrian Hamlin

    Good luck to FTTD, I cant imagine how you will raise £3million and then find the funds to subsides the running of the Pub. Businesses close down beacuse there is not enough business to support them. I know it closed on a health violation but had it been profitable another company would have bought it and it would still be trading. Indeed one would ask why Wetherspoons didnt buy the place instead of opening in Victoria road? The Squirrel pub has also changed hands 3 times in the last 10 years one assumes that each previous owner failed to make a profit so sold on. Like wise the Elephant in North camp has closed and is now a Burger Bar. TTD is a lovely building why not let MacDonalds have it as long as its astects are preserved?

    1. Rossi Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Adrian. There’s a lot more to this issue than the Tumbledown simply appearing to be an “unviable” business – It may have been deliberately engineered to apear so. The lease was not set at a fair market rate for starters, infact, it was at a level that could be deemed “extortionate”. So whilst you might question the sanity of the current campaign, all volunteers working for no pay, there are far more concerning questions to be asked of Spirit Group, the professionals, all working for what is often called a “Zombie” company.

      As for Wetherspoons, they were offered a blank canvas, an empty retail unit in Victoria Rd. Besides, they don’t do live music.

      The Squirrel? Not a comparable pub. Elephant & Castle? Again, not a good comparison. In fact, there is not another pub in Rushmoor that had anything like what the Tumbledown had.

      Now, imagine a 200+ capacity venue, a return to showcasing local talent and live music, and that alone is a moneyspinner – I saw the figures when the place was last open and it was doing well.

      Add to that a completely rejuvenated pub, change it to a freehouse, change the menu, add some more community benefits, and you’ve got an attractive proposition. Besides, there are wider benefits than purely the bottom line. It’s a tall order but it is not unclimbable. Let’s not add litter, antisocial beahviour behind the wheel of a car and obesity in a town that has above national average figures. A pub, venue and community place is better than a homogeneous food factory.

      1. David Smith

        “I can’t imagine how you will raise £3million” The money’s out there as long as you have a well-drawn up business plan. In fact there are specialist funds available from several sources for exactly this kind of community project. Having drawn up a business plan to save our local, ultimately denied by the planning inspector who said a community cooperative plan was not a ‘planning matter’ I know it can be done. Many other community groups have raised bigger funds than this and are doing extremely well. Have a look at ‘The Hope’ in Carshalton, in five years they’ve made enough to buy the site and build an extension paid for in cash. It can be hard for ordinary people with no knowledge of the redevelopment business model to see how a run-down building can be saved. Developers know this and rely on people’s lack of imagination and risk adverse mentality to close down pubs that suffer minor difficulties. There’s no such thing as a ‘bad pub’ just a ‘badly run pub’ which in the right hands can be turned around quickly.
        St Helier Pub Group

        1. Rossi Post author


          Thank you so much for your positive comment, it is very much appreciated.

          You’re absolutely right about the business plan and, with a lot of effort, patience and professional input, the latest incarnation of the Tumbledown business plan is taking shape very nicely.

          We’ve gone into this with our eyes wide open and are fully aware of the potential high cost of this particular project but, again, you’re absolutely spot on with regards to there being a number of sources of funds.

          Thank you also for pointing out the other high value projects. “The Hope” in Carshalton is one that we’ve heard of and will have a closer look, thank you for the tip, David. If there are any other specific examples we’d be more than happy to hear about them.

          We’ve regularly encountered a lot of the issues you’ve pointed out, David, and we’ve had similar insights from former pub portfolio managers who have painted the same scenario. It is a concern but hurdles can always be cleared.

          As for the “bad pub” vs “badly run pub” that is so true. The Tumbledown was actually managed pretty well considering that over the years before it closed it was to a backdrop of severe under-investment from the last string of leaseholders and owners. With new owners, a new vision and new investment, this pub has a very positive future ahead of it and it’s better than the alternatives. It’s also a viable business too.

          N.B. BTW didn’t we have a chat at the Trinity Arms, Brixton, just before the Motorhead gig last year where we spoke about The Morden Tavern? :)

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