Saved from the chopping block? Simpson’s Tavern given special protection in battle to save historic restaurant

 (Simpson’s Tavern)
(Simpson’s Tavern)

Efforts to save a restaurant that is believed to be the oldest chophouse in London have received a boost after it was given special protection.

The City of London Corporation, the local authority for the Square Mile, has designated Simpson’s Tavern as an “asset of community value”.

The restaurant, in Cornhill, near the Bank of England, dates to 1757. It was forced by its landlord to close on October 16, apparently until it paid rent arrears run up during the pandemic.

The freehold of the Grade II listed property is thought to have been put up for sale. But the new designation means it cannot be sold without the landlord first providing the local community with the opportunity to bid for the building.

Chris Hayward, City Corporation policy chairman, said: “Simpson’s Tavern is a City institution frequented by generations of workers and residents who have enjoyed its good food, drink and convivial atmosphere.

“Its long history and deeply rooted status at the heart of the community means that it clearly meets the criteria for designation as an asset of community value, something which must now be taken into account in any decision over its future.”

The application to designate Simpson’s as an asset of community value was approved unanimously by the City’s policy committee on Thursday.

Nickie Aiken, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said the move was “very good news”. and would prevent the restaurant being sold against the public’s wishes.

The application was made by the Simpson’s Tavern Preservation Society, which is campaigning to save the eatery, famous for its dark wood panelling and communal tables.

It said the tavern was well used for events such as hosting historical societies including the Georgian Dining Academy and the Pickwick Society. It is also used for group and networking events along with annual events such as a carols concert.

A community value application can be granted when a building or land is deemed to “further the social well-being or social interests of the community”.

The designation, under the Localism Act 2011, must be taken into account when planning permission is sought to change the use of, or redevelop, the building.