The Capitol - new cinema please

Thank goodness Wetherspoons are standing by this venue in that case. Many other pub chains would have upped and left a loss-making venue.

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I wonder what would make this pub different from the many other pubs they are in the process of selling on?

I wonder why too. Wasn’t it scheduled for closure and sale a few years ago, only for ‘Spoons to keep it in the end?

I don’t think the Spoons are the freeholders. There is a developer who have owned it for yonks. So it seems they were selling a lease and a short one at that. While listed listings are great, they are a bugger to sell on. They may have found selling hard, and keeping open better than closed.

Yes, if I remember correctly, there’s only a 3 months empty premises exemption and then the owner would be liable for Business Rates.
Bear in mind that the Rateable Value for the Capitol is £107,000 and the multiplier is c. 50p in the £, so just over a grand a week in cold blood! (Plus insuring and safeguarding an empty buiding like that would be a killer!)


I get it. Keeping it open may have been there only reasonable option. That’s tough. O a positive note, I did try their new stone baked pizzas some number of months ago. Downed them in time before the silence became to hard to bare.

You should have loaded-up an old film on your phone, held the screen up towards the bar, put your headhones on and imagined it was 1971 - cos I think that’s the nearest anyone’s gonna get to a cinema experience there for a while!


This is completely off topic… but do you know if a business owner can sit on a property and not attempt to use it as its intended classification just in the hope they can get planning permission at some point for housing. If you have a failed business for examples do you still have to pay business rates? Hope that makes sense…

Potentially, yes, this would be possible.
The local authority can’t force a property owner to keep that premises rented or used but they have a duty to impose Business Rates - even when empty.
Change of use could be applied for if a business fails, but potential uses for that premises would be constrained by the local authority’s designation of the particular road or parade.
I’m not sure if it’s intended to affect commercial premises, but I was aware that Labour mentioned plans to double or treble Council Tax on long-term empty residential properties, which would concentrate the minds of some landlords with a hidden agenda perhaps?

Thanks this is helpful. I think I remember that too to stop overseas investors sitting on properties and pricing out Londoners.

I heard from a past employee of said developer that behind the scenes, maintenance - notably up at roof level - is actually pretty poor. He described wading through knee-deep dead pigeons when doing a site inspection. Might be partly responsible for the proposed sale a few years ago not going ahead. It’s all very well maintaining the bit people drink in, but I don’t think they’ve maintained the exterior well at all. And “backstage” sounds like a horror story.

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Don’t get me started on the Pigeon problem. The council needs to start reducing their numbers pronto. It’s like a Hitchcock movie in Forest Hill.

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Knee-deep in pigeons? That’s quite an accusation to make against a food and drink business, especially one with a five star rating from Food Standards Agency.

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People don’t eat on the roof. It’s a huge building, and I’m sure there are no dead pigeons in the kitchen. It’s about the upkeep of the areas of the building Wetherspoons won’t be using, which doesn’t affect the day-to-day operation but will affect the overall condition of the building.

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On the roof? Do you mean outside?

From what I was told, within the interior attic/rafters and on the roof itself. Not necessarily visible unless you’re roaming around the out-of-bounds areas. Again, secondhand information so not vouching for validity. But the facade is pretty tatty so it’s not a huge jump.

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I think it is a jump from weeds growing on the facade to knee deep in pigeons but I haven’t been up there so don’t know. Just think it’s unfair to put it on a public forum. The Capitol, used by a lot of people of all demographics, seems to be getting a bit of bad press on here from others because of their political views. Anyway, it continues to be busy so live and let live.


That sounds infeasible to me - that would stink and be noticeable throughout the building.

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(Again), see above. Sorry if it’s unfair. As with a vast percentage of this forum, it’s opinion and conjecture, but I thought since it came from a source I at least know to be trustworthy, I was safe to share it. I stand corrected.

For the record (not that you were accusing) nothing I’ve said is politically informed. I too think people get political on here for no reasons and it adds to a (growing) feeling of “oh FFS” round these parts. I just think it’s a formerly impressive building that now looks a bit crap. A lot of smoke was flowing up the Wetherspoons backside regarding their being great restorers of buildings, and I just don’t agree they “restore” so much as “keep from collapse.” But again, if this is unfair, given that it’s based purely on my own lived experience, apologies. :woman_shrugging:


My comments re politics weren’t directed at you Fran. I too have the FFS reaction sometimes :slightly_smiling_face:. I remember there was a tour of the unused parts of the Capitol some time ago. Maybe part of the Open Buildings weekend? If there is ever another tour we could meet and see for ourselves and share a drink afterwards. Assuming there aren’t any pigeons up there!
I agree, it could do with a lick of paint.

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