Regulars looking forward to first pint back in Chesham Arms
PUBLISHED: 09:22 14 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:22 14 May 2015
Regulars are over the moon the pub they have spent the past two years fighting to save will finally be open for business again next month.
In October 2012 customers were shocked to find the Chesham Arms had been boarded up by property developer Mukund Patel, who ripped out the bar and turned the first floor into a flat and the ground floor bar into “two office suites” without planning permission.
They formed the Save the Chesham Action Group and a two-year legal battle ensued, as they tried to make sure the 150-year-old pub in Mehetabel Road, Homerton, could be preserved for future generations.
Mr Patel went down every legal avenue to win permission to convert the pub into flats, but he was blocked in October when the Planning Inspectorate upheld Hackney Council’s decision to recognise the pub as an “asset of community value” under the Localism Act.
In March the council granted the pub extra protection by issuing an Article 4 Direction, meaning the building’s “recreational use” could not be changed without planning permission. This still left campaigners with no reassurance the building would ever be used as a pub again.
But Mr Patel has now relented and granted a 15-year lease to publican Andy Bird who hopes to convert it back to its former glory by the end of June.
Mr Bird, from Hackney Road and whose father was born 200m from the pub, has been following the pub’s plight “since the start”, after reading about it in the Gazette.
He said: “I don’t think the developer has done anything wrong, thousands of pubs have been converted into flats, he just did it at the wrong time with the wrong group of residents. I want those guys to keep the glory, they have done all the hard work.
“It’s hit the point now when there’s been enough pubs developed into flats and the fight back has begun, pubs are a key part of the local community. “I was just lucky to get it before it came onto the market, and we are investing to take it back to what it should be, which is a nice East End traditional public house.”
Campaign chairman, Jonathan Sockett, welcomed the news. “After almost 1000 days closed, we are very much looking forward to our first pint back in The Chesham Arms,” he said.
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