Beer Background

Community action saves London music pub

Added: Wednesday, March 27th 2013

The Ivy House in Nunhead, a well-loved South London local, with a splendid 1930s interior and a place in music history, with acts including Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer having played on its stage, has been saved from closure. 

In April 2012, the owner of the Ivy House pub, Enterprise Inns, announced it was selling off the pub. Nunhead resident Tessa Blunden, a solicitor, was a regular visitor to the Ivy House, and held her wedding party there a few years ago. When Tessa heard that the Ivy House was closing she went after work to see what was going on. Tessa said: “It turns out a lot of people had had the same idea. There were about 80 people in there when I arrived. As I had a notepad and a pen, I started collecting people’s email addresses for a mailing list.” 

This mailing list grew into a group who were determined to save the pub. Tessa is one of the five-strong steering group, a team of local residents, including a chartered surveyor and a town planner, with day jobs formidably well suited to the task of rescuing the Ivy House. But  the community purchase of an inner London property was not straightforward, even for such a team. The campaign to save the Ivy House began well, with their facebook page gaining more than a thousand hits, the local paper reporting on their plans, and the local MP getting involved. English Heritage gave the pub a Grade II listing for its rare 1930s interior. 

But in October 2012 Enterprise Inns sold the Ivy House at auction to a businessman, who almost immediately put it back on the market for £750,000, with plans to turn the pub into flats. 

Tessa said: “We knew the Localism Act had just come into force, so with help from the Peckham Society and advice from Locality, we applied to Southwark Council to list the Ivy House as an asset of community value. It was certainly the first asset Southwark had listed, and quite possibly the first asset to be listed in the whole country”.  

The council listed the pub in the nick of time to prevent it going back to auction. The Right to Bid gave the Save the Ivy House campaign a moratorium period of six months to raise the money and buy the pub if they could. Raising a sum of over £750,000 in six months was a daunting proposition, but Tessa and her team knew the Right to Bid represented perhaps the last chance to rescue the Ivy House. 

They were thrilled when the Architectural Heritage Fund stepped in and announced it would offer them conditional loan finance of £500,000 for the purchase, plus a £50,000 working capital loan for start-up costs. At the start of March 2013 the group purchased the Ivy House for £810,000, with funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund and others. They’re now planning a community share issue scheme, where people can buy a part share in the pub to help run it and keep it open in the long term. 

In less than a year the local community has rallied together, got the Ivy House pub listed by Southwark Council as an asset of community value and by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building, secured an offer of loan finance and purchased the pub – a truly tremendous achievement. 

For free support on the Right to Bid and all the Community Rights go to