Hackney Council’s ruling means pub may finally reopen

Campaigners rejoice as Chesham Arms won't be turned into flats

Campaigners rejoice as Chesham Arms won't be turned into flats - Credit: Archant

Campaigners are rejoicing after historic back-street boozer The Chesham Arms was granted special protection by Hackney Council, safeguarding it for future generations.

The Chesham Arms in its heyday

The Chesham Arms in its heyday - Credit: Archant

The 150-year-old pub in Mehetabel Road, Homerton, became one of only 31 pubs in England to be issued with an Article 4 Direction last week, meaning the owner cannot change the recreational use of the building without planning permission.

In 2013 customers were shocked to find the pub had been boarded up by property developer Mukund Patel, and went on to form the Save The Chesham Action Group.

The pub’s first floor was turned into a flat and the ground level into offices.

But last October the Planning Inspectorate upheld a council enforcement notice in a landmark case, recognising the pub’s status as an “asset of community value” under the Localism Act, as awarded by the council.

It was decided the loss of the pub would breach a list of planning policies at national, regional and local level and made a ruling it could not be split up into flats.

However, campaigners were left with no reassurance the building would ever be used as a pub again.

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But the Article 4 Direction means that when the current temporary permission for office use expires in a year’s time the building will have to be used as a pub – or simply left empty.

Campaign chairman and former pub regular, Jonathan Sockett, thanked the council for safeguarding the pub’s future.

He said: “This latest development is extremely significant – as it effectively ends all prospects of the pub being converted to flats or any other use.

“The protection is vital because planning law currently allows pubs to be converted to a range of other uses without needing planning permission, simply if the owner notifies the council. Hundreds of pubs in London and across the UK have been lost because planning law allows them to be converted to a range of uses – including shops, betting shops and financial service offices, without the need for planning permission. Our resolve to see the pub relaunched remains as strong as it ever was.

“Now the owner has to keep The Chesham Arms as a pub, we hope that he will put it on the market at a fair price without any further delay.”

Mr Patel declined to comment.