Popular Homerton pub set to be turned into offices
PUBLISHED: 14:14 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:01 25 June 2013
A developer has announced it will turn a much-loved Homerton watering hole into offices, despite a nine-month campaign to reinstate it.
Campaigners battling to save a historic pub for nine months have been dealth a major blow after a developer announced plans to turn it into offices.
The Chesham Arms in Mehetabel Road, Homerton, was closed without warning last October after it was sold to a private developer for housing.
Angry residents then set up a campaign group called Save The Chesham – and successfully applied to get the watering hole listed as a community asset, meaning the council can prevent it from being turned into flats.
But after unsuccessfully appealing the decision earlier this year, developer Mukund Patel, who insists the property could not make a profit as a pub, has now announced he will turn it into offices – which is allowed.
Electrical engineer James Watson, secretary of Save the Chesham Arms campaign, said: “We cannot understand the rationale behind the bizarre decision when the rental income from a pub would far exceed what he would receive from it as an office space.
“The previous pub owner, who had it for 30 years, was taking £25,000 (PER n rent from the publican and when converted hastily into an office on a back-street with no parking provision, we would expect the rental income to be £7,000 at best. This does not take into the sizeable conversion cost.
“We had our annual street party at the weekend. We invited the developer Mukund Patel and his spokesman Tony Allen so they could meet all the neighbours and we could tell them what a great pub The Chesham Arms is but they did not come.
“The Churchwell residents’ group have made several attempts to set up a meeting with Mr Patel and Mr Allen to which we have not received any response.”
Mr Watson added: “If it’s not making any money then why do we have five prospective pub operators who have looked around and expressed interest in taking it on at the right market value, which we believe to be £350,0000 not the £700,000 that the developer’s asking for.
“The question is not about viability, it’s about greed. The developer paid an over-inflated price for this pub building and failed to do his homework. He is now refusing to sell it as he doesn’t want to make a loss.”
Spokesman Tony Allen, of town planning and development consultants Allen Planning, said: “The present intention is to turn the ground floor into an office and rent out the flat on the first floor.
“The reason we are trying to convert the pub into an office is to generate some value out of the ground floor.
“The property was loss-making for two years so there’s no intention to open it up as a loss-making facility.”