My house has been on the market since April. It lies on one of Brook Green’s most desirable streets with a church, vet, corner shop, primary school and two gastro pubs in walking distance — all the elements for a thriving community.
Unsurprisingly, I have welcomed multiple potential buyers into my four-bedroom home — which I’ve put on the market for £1,685,000 — and they’ve all exclaimed with delight at a house so full of light, charm and original features. I have a patio garden and a comfortably furnished sunny roof terrace that is not overlooked.
So why have I not had one serious offer? In a word: pub.
I live next door to the Havelock Tavern, one of London’s original gastro pubs and the social glue of my community. But buyers with no experience of living next to a pub don’t seem to realise the benefits.
“A next-door pub is a perceived, rather than real, issue,” says my estate agent Paul Cosgrove, partner at Finlay Brewer, who are selling my house.
“All the previous occupants of that house wouldn’t have it any other way. They’ve all loved the pub’s inherent advantages, from security to convenience, camaraderie and a sense of belonging to the community.”
Having lived next door to the Havelock for more than 20 years and before that, opposite it for three, I couldn’t agree with him more.
As I write, the landlord, Rob, who also lives above the pub, is caring for my wounded cat, going in twice a day to feed him and change his litter tray. The pub keeps my keys, takes in my deliveries and if there’s a parking suspension when I’m away, Rob knows where my car keys are and deals with it.
It has reliable wi-fi and is open from mid-morning dispensing cappuccinos.
Successive landlords have kept a protective, caring eye on my daughters. If I’ve been delayed, I’ve found them happily doing their homework inside with a soft drink and something to eat. As a single mother, I have never felt safer and it’s my first London home that hasn’t been burgled.
One Christmas the pub lent me glasses, tables and chairs and helped me lug the furniture in and out. Last year, when a close friend died, her relatives and friends who had gathered at her hospital bedside emigrated to my house in search of comfort. Rob was soon at the door, with fish and chips and bottles of wine.
I telephoned my local Nuisance Officer at Hammersmith and Fulham council. Mandy Burke told me they have been receiving far fewer complaints about noise from licensed premises in the past four years. Being in the heart of a residential area, the Havelock is strict about clearing the premises bang on time at night so noise is kept to a minimum.
Visitors to the neighbourhood are bowled over by how friendly and village-like it is, rare in a city. I have been extraordinarily lucky to have brought my children up in a friendly, safe environment. I’m passing this gift on but no one seems to want it.
It’s time we saw our pubs as the refuges from loneliness and isolation they are, dispensing hope and comfort as well as drinks and food. If we lose our pubs, we’ll be all the poorer, and certainly whoever buys my house will be the richer for living next to one, as I have been.