Latest on The Half Moon
Meet the Manager
Closed since the Great Flood of August 2013, The Half Moon pub is set to reopen this Spring.
Matt Dutson will be the new General Manager. For several months now, he’s been getting ready for his new job and preparing for the opening, which will hopefully be in March if the utility supply issues can be solved in time.
Matt is a cheerful and energetic Australian, clearly up for the challenge of running what’s going to be a very busy and complex establishment. He worked as a chef for many years in Australia and originally came to the UK to continue that work but fell into pub management almost accidentally which turned out to be his perfect niche. He has worked for Fuller’s in London for the past eight years; until recently he ran The Mason’s Arms, the popular pub on Battersea Park Road. Last autumn he emerged from a competitive shortlist to win the exciting new position as General Manager of The Half Moon, with the exciting responsibility for relaunching this famous old pub in its new incarnation.
“We hope it will be a great pub for all the community. Out at the back we will have a child’s play area. There will be a very flexible function space created in what used to be the old stables and the back yard - perfect for parties, live entertainment and community events. We’ll have a dining space and we have the luxury of the great front bar and snug bar too, and the side bar – all places to have a quiet pint, or which can sometimes be booked for private parties if available.”
“We may not be able to satisfy absolutely everyone but we will do our best.”
Simon Emeny, Fuller’s CEO, in his published report with the half-year results released in November, included the following, relating to recent acquisitions:
On 5 April 2016 Southwark’s Planning Committee voted 5-1 in favour of granting Fuller’s Listing and Full Planning consent for The Half Moon. Prior to the meeting, Fuller’s had allowed for some flexible space in the internal back area (with moveable tables and chairs) which could be used for entertainment. The significance of the Asset of Community Value was discussed. The legal officer pointed out that the Use A4 was for a pub/drinking establishment with the music as an ancillary activity and there is no obligation as such to run the pub as a music venue.
The Half Moon today is a sorry sight, and is greatly missed. We have very few proper pubs in Herne Hill, and it is certain that the locals will flock back after three and a half years of deprivation.
Owing to growing local concern about the pub’s lengthy closure and the absence of information as to when or in what form it might re-open, Southwark agreed to list it as an Asset of Community Value, in part for the contribution of live music to the social well-being of the local community. ACV status is a consideration in granting or refusing a planning application for change of use. Since, however, the proposed use of the ground floor in planning terms remains the same, whether a live music venue is included or not, the relevance of the ACV status was always questionable. There were many objections to the application, as part of a well-organised campaign in favour of reinstating a music venue. Fuller’s plans indicate kitchen and restaurant spaces at the rear, in place of the performance room (originally designed for billiards). They made it clear that they did not want to run a music venue, of which they have no experience, but they do want to run a gastropub, where they have plenty of experience. They also point to the fact that their scheme will create 35 full-time and part-time jobs.
Can a space serve both as a restaurant and a live music venue? Dulwich Estate have said that the Half Moon was advertised to 64 pub operators. Seven expressed interest, but none wanted to run a live music venue as part of their business (see p.2 of their letter below).
There are, of course, many locals who don’t feel strongly about the loss of a once famous live music venue and its associated late-night activities. They would be very happy to have a good gastropub in the heart of Herne Hill. Their wish is to see Herne Hill’s landmark Grade II* building return as a pub, after the substantial attention to its deteriorating fabric that is urgently required. The details of the Fullers proposals (see the Southwark planning website, reference 16/AP/0167) shows that their scheme meets those criteria very well.
While we continue to wait for our pub to reopen, here’s an excerpt from an interview with Robert Harrison, former leaseholder (2006-13) of The Half Moon, as told to Jason Tate, journalist and Herne Hill resident. Warning: includes infamous ‘banned’ list, as seen on TV!