Severe blow dealt to David Beckham’s boozer Wenlock Arms
- Credit: Archant
Hearts were heavy on Tuesday night as a severe blow was dealt to the legendary Hoxton boozer David Beckham used to frequent with his beloved late grandfather.
Nearly 100 devoted punters of the Wenlock Arms flocked to the planning meeting at Hackney Town Hall, demonstrating the strength of their feelings against Wenlock LLP’s application to build two one-bedroom flats above it.
Natalie Ward, a lifelong resident of nearby Windsor House where superstar footballer Beckham’s granddad also lived before his death two years ago, told the committee: “What you are deciding today is not the fate of any old back street boozer but the fate of a uniquely precious pub known worldwide as a piece of living history, the reason why people from all over the world walk up Wenlock Road.
She continued: “This pub survived the Blitz and now it has to survive cultural vandalism by a companies concerned about money, not people.
“Our area is swamped by private flats but there is only one Wenlock arms.”
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Concern was raised about the loss of the function rooms on the first floor where the flats will be built, which has played host to all manner of events from wedding receptions to meetings of the Ukulele Club of Great Britain and the Stammers’ Society.
But councillors sitting on the planning sub-committee were told if the application was rejected there was nothing to stop the historic pub from being turned into a supermarket or wine bar tomorrow.
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However a condition attached to the application removing permitted development rights would ensure the venue continues to run as a pub.
Planning officer Graham Callam told the sub-committee this would make the case weak for refusing the application on the grounds of the impact on the pub’s character, and that the planning team also considered the design appropriate for the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area.
If rejected Wenlock LLP could appeal to the Secretary of State to overturn the decision, leaving the council facing a hefty legal bill.
But Cllr Michael Desmond expressed belief the loss of the function room equated to a “severe loss of amenity”.
“That function room has been there for many, many years and ultimately I think that any inspector who chose to oppose the decision of a democratically elected committee would have to justify it in the context of loss of amenity, so I don’t feel we necessarily would lose an appeal,” he said.
Members of the planning subcommittee went on to vote five to one to support the application.
It marked the culmination of a fierce battle between developer Wenlock LLP and the pub’s loyal punters over the course of three years since the previous owners decided to retire.
A previous application to bulldoze the pub was rejected by the council two years ago.