Published: 09:15, 24 December 2019
| Updated: 10:42, 24 December 2019
Plans have been submitted to turn a 128-year-old pub into a pizza takeaway.
The George and Dragon is a former Victorian coaching inn located on the corner of London Road and Swanscombe High Street since 1891.
Its taps have been running dry since August when owners Bob and Bron Veal shut its doors for good.
The couple purchased the boozer back in 2011 and set about changing its image.
This included obtaining new licences and carrying out a refurbishment to update its B&B facility to cater for up to six guests.
Only six years ago it was named among the 150 best local real ale pubs in the country, winning the title of Gravesend and Darent Valley CAMRA pub of the year two years in a row.
Its success coincided with the opening of the Caveman Brewery in 2013 by Nick Byram and James Hayward, who went on to set up the Iron Pier Brewery in Northfleet last year.
Operating from the basement below the pub, the brewery produced a new line of ales, from the Neanderthal best bitter to a Paleolithic pale ale.
Each beer's name drew inspiration from the former gravel quarry, Barnfield Pit, now Swanscombe Heritage Park, where the archaeological discovery of the then oldest human remains found in the UK – the Swanscombe Skull – was made.
But it appears even the brewer's intervention was not be enough to save the pub from extinction.
Approaching retirement, the couple placed the business on the market but could not find any bidders to continue the business.
Now an initial application by Zaan Ltd, which currently runs a franchise chain of Domino's Pizza in London Road, Gillingham, has been submitted.
It follows a recommendation by planning officers from the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation to change the use of the premises to a food takeaway business.
A marketing statement submitted with the application read: “The George and Dragon is no longer viable as a public house business, and better suited to alternative use."
It cited several factors behind its recommendation, including "rising costs, a demographic shift towards eating and drinking at home for less money, public health concerns and the smoking ban".
As part of the repurposing of the site, new extract vents and flues will be installed to minimise "noise and smells".
It also includes rear parking access with room for 10 cars which will be retained as a "pick-up" point for customers.
Its not the first historic building in the area to be subject to redevelopments plans, with the All Saints Church opposite having recently been converted into flats.
The Alma Public House in Swanscombe High Street was demolished last month to make way for a house of multiple occupation.
Historian Christoph Bull runs a regular tour from the historic George and Dragon pub.
He hopes the building can be preserved and used either as another public house or a healthy eating restaurant.
"There is enough pizza places in Swanscombe," he said.
"It does not need to be drowned in more unsaturated fat."
Although the historian noted he'd sooner see it be turned into a pizza shop than it face the "same disgraceful fate" as the Alma Public House.
Cllr Emma Ben Moussa (Lab) says she will be reading the plans over Christmas and ensuring her residents' views are heard.
"It seems the George and the Dragon despite being part of Swanscombe is under Ebbsfleet planning boundaries," she said.
"The George was a much-loved part of our community and the impression I'm getting from my ward is that we do not need another fast food takeaway and they would prefer it remained as a pub or something that the community can use together."
The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has been contacted for comment.
Comments on the application can be made at applications.ebbsfleetdc.org.uk
More by this authorSean Delaney