The Save Molly Maguires Campaign

Victory for Local Residents!


Molly Maguires has been razed to the ground. There is a planning application pending to build a block of flats on the site. Victory for residents. Although they didn't manage to save their local pub, at least they made sure that McDonald's didn't move in!

Harrow Does It Again

The Save Molly Maguires Campaign

A brief history of how the people of Harrow banded together (again) to thwart another McDonald’s planning application

We are a group of local people from Harrow Weald who are fighting to save our pub - Molly Maguires - from being turned into a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant.

The Planning Application

In February 2000 Greene King, the brewery that owns Molly Maguires pub, submitted a planning application for changes to the pub site and car park:

  • Double the number of car parking spaces.
  • A drive-through car park layout - a drive-through pub?
  • Roof extraction equipment - for a pub that doesn’t have a restaurant?
  • Soft landscaping - including felling trees (looks familiar).
  • A brick ‘bin store’ which looks very familiar.

Local people got wind of the fact that the planning application was so that Greene King could then sell the site to McDonald’s.

Why would Greene King do the planning application on behalf of McDonald’s?

Both McDonald’s and Greene King know that Molly Maguires is a stupid place to put a fast food drive-through restaurant. The pub and its car park adjoin a complicated stretch of road that is notorious for ‘near misses’ locally. It is also next door to the main bus garage and bus terminating points.

If Greene King do the application it gets judged as a pub and not a fast food take-away. If permission had been granted, Greene King could then sell the site to McDonald’s who would also inherit the planning permission - because of the antiquated Class A3 planning regulation - which doesn’t distinguish between a pub and a fast food take away restaurant. So McDonald’s would get all the planning permissions they needed without having to justify them.

Pub regulars and local residents were incensed by this outrageous behaviour and formed The Save Molly Maguires Campaign group. This is what we did:

March 2000 - The Campaign Gets Going

  • Local people exposed what was really going on in the local press.
  • Greene King said in the local press that the site was for sale - although refused to confirm (or deny) that the buyer was McDonald’s.
  • Likewise, McDonald’s refused to confirm (or deny) any interest in the site when asked by the press.
  • Both sides could quite easily deny it and kill the rumours - but they didn’t.
  • This further confirmed what local people already knew - that the site was being prepared for sale to McDonald’s.
  • As a result, more people join the campaign group.
  • Over 100 people write letters of objection to the Council.
  • The application was put on the agenda for councillors to hear at the Planning Committee in July.

The campaign grew over the next few months, including leaflets, a petition, lobbying councillors, a meeting with the local MP, letters to the local press and regular articles reporting progress on the campaign. Pub regulars wrote to the Chairman of Greene King, sent registered post, requesting a meeting to discuss the future of the pub. The letter was not even acknowledged.

This is a very shoddy way for a company to treat its customers - or perhaps Greene King just didn’t dare reply or meet with us - it wouldn’t be able to dodge the McDonald’s question. This just strengthened the resolve of local people to fight the application.

Greene King were then advised by local planning officials that they would not recommend granting permission for the drive-through. So Greene King revised its application, and were told that if they reduced the number of car parking spaces slightly then officers would recommend granting.

Greene King then withdrew their application, and issued a press release stating that there were ‘currently’ no negotiations to sell the site. Why? Perhaps it’s only temporary while they renegotiate the price with McDonald’s (no drive-through, limited car parking - the site is becoming less attractive by the minute). Or perhaps they knew the community would give both companies a bloody nose at the council hearing - and would expose what the application was really for. Or perhaps we made sure that the application was more trouble than it was worth.

We would like to meet with Greene King to discuss the future of the pub. We have written to them and offered a discussion - but so far they have ignored us.

For updates on the Molly Maguires campaign, see our Webpages on the Harrow SCAM Website at


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