Plans to bulldoze a “distinguished” community pub and replace it with flats should be thrown out, campaigners said.

Developers want permission for the project on the site of the 19th century Grove Tavern in south Wimbledon.

But pub and beer group Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) urged Merton Council’s planners to reject the idea, claiming it did not meet the authority’s pub protection policy.

The policy insists attempts are made to market the site as a pub before it is offered for any other use.

Geoff Strawbridge, pubs officer for Camra’s south-west London branch, said: “The Grove is a distinguished late Victorian pub with plenty of space to accomodate and entertain locals and visitors wanting to enjoy a social drink and often a musical performance.”

Acts appearing at the venue in the past year include Morden band Good Shoes, cult indie group British Sea Power and rock band Funeral for a Friend.

The venue also screens sport and hosts stand-up comedy.

The bid for outline planning permission, submitted by developer Newridge London, reveals a plan to completely demolish the current building and replace it with a three-storey structure including a ground floor retail unit and nine flats.

But Mr Strawbridge said the developers had not adhered to Merton’s pub protection policy – which insists they prove the Grove is not a viable business before gaining permission to knock it down.

He said the Grove was a “valuable local amenity”, and said the number of pubs in the area had already been hit when the Princess Royal in Abbey Road closed down last year.

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