Rust Bucket Pizza Co
The Rust Bucket Pizza Co sat on Love Lane, outside Tesco

A Woolwich pizza operator who pitched his business on council land without permission after being refused planning consent has been given support from local councillors.

Vito Marino, who used to run Charlton’s White Swan pub (and still runs a Facebook page dedicated to it, despite requests from the current owner to close it), moved his Rust Bucket Pizza Co onto council land behind 19 Wellington Street – in front of the Tesco store – after his lease on a site next door had been terminated. Council planners had earlier refused planning permission for his business to be situated there.

In response to a 630-name petition, council officers said they would need to market the 19 Wellington Street site first and planning permission and other utility issues would still need to be resolved.

Local resident Caroline Smith told last week’s council meeting the presence of the pizza outlet had made the area safer for people and had generated “a real community atmosphere”(watch here).

In response, council deputy leader Danny Thorpe said: “I guess the fundamental is the bit of land Vito has been requesting – that’s not land we’re bringing forward for marketing. But we’d be delighted to support Vito in any way he can stay and find an appropriate place in Woolwich town centre.

“I know officers have passed him details of the Wool Yard scheme in particular, and now that we’re bringing Street Feast to the market, I think there’ll be a great lot of support to work with them and set up as a trader. Location is the issue but everyone wants to see you back, Vito.” (watch here)

Woolwich Common councillor and cabinet member David Gardner added: “Residents were very pleased at the life and vitality the Rust Bucket Pizza Co brought to the area. The streets were being swept, the area came alive, and any anti-social behaviour issues were often actually dealt with by Vito and the staff.”

“It was that sort of animation and activity we need in Woolwich town centre, including Love Lane, which lends itself to that… I still think there is a way we can make this work.” (watch here)

The Street Feast proposal comes to a licensing meeting on Tuesday evening, with police and council officers objecting to plans to allow outdoor eating and drinking to 11pm, and Street Feast threatening to pull out if it doesn’t get its way.

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