​Sister Midnight criticises planned development of Ravensbourne Arms

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The team behind Sister Midnight have criticised plans for flat developments at a Lewisham site they had previously attempted to acquire to build a community-led music venue, the Ravensbourne Arms.

In 2021, Sister Midnight – a non-profit collective based in South London – raised £260,000 through community investment and donations to acquire the former pub, but were outbid.

Earlier this week, developers announced plans to transform the ground floor of the pub into a block of flats, alleging that no other offers had been made on the site for “the last 7 years”, The Greenwich Wire reports.

Sister Midnight is now claiming this to be untrue, sharing their “concern” and explaining that their community-backed project had been “very public”.

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“We are deeply disappointed, but not at all surprised to see that the owners of the Ravensbourne Arms have made a planning application to convert the ground floor of the pub to flats,” they said in a statement yesterday.

They also added that this decision would “erase any chance of the Ravensbourne being brought back into community use as a pub.”

Their campaign to save the shuttered pub saw Sister Midnight place “multiple offers”, each of which was “rejected due to the owner seeking a sale price which was over £1.2 million above the market value”, as verified by both Lewisham Council and an independent surveyor (per Sister Midnight).

The venue, which sits on Lewisham High Street, was closed in 2016. While the pub itself has remained boarded up since then, the second floor has been converted into seven flats.

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“Many will also be aware that we were informed by the estate agents for the pub that an offer for the leasehold had been made by a competing buyer in 2022, so we are utterly BAFFLED by the owners claims that they’ve had no offers in the last 7 years,” Sister Midnight explained.

The non-profit collective added that it hopes “a planning application containing such demonstrably false claims will not be approved by Lewisham Council”.

The proposed plan to turn the venue into a live music pub was campaigned throughout 2021 to 2022 before it was called off. The team are now working on a second venue in Lewisham after securing a seven-year lease.

Sister Midnight is set to become Lewisham’s first-ever community-owned music space, taking over the former Brookdale Club, a disused working men’s club in the heart of Catford, due to open in 2025. Find out more about the venue here.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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