Double blow for residents as council refuses to protect Battle of Britain site or offer blanket protection to borough's remaining pubs
PUBLISHED: 16:59 04 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:45 09 January 2017
Campaigners had hoped to rebuild the historic pub and wanted borough-wide protection to stop others being demolished
Northfleet residents have been left disappointed after the council turned down their bid to have a much-loved local pub rebuilt following its illegal demolition.
When developers knocked down the Battle of Britain pub on Coldharbour Road without planning permission last October, a community group applied for the site to be listed as an asset of community value (ACV).
If an ACV had been granted, residents would have been given six months to mount a bid for the site and were hoping to have the pub rebuilt.
But Gravesham Council has ruled against an ACV, stating: “[The site] is not currently used for a purpose which furthers the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community and it is unlikely that it could be used in a way which furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community in the next five years.”
In a further blow for campaigners, the council has refused to bring in a separate piece of legislation that would have protected the borough’s remaining public houses from developers.
Members of the Battle of Britain Community Group have been lobbying for an Article 4 Direction, which would have removed permitted development rights on the pubs, preventing them from being sold on to a developer, retailer or other party.
But a council spokesperson said: “Whilst the council would not rule out the making of Article 4 Directions where appropriate in the future, to do so on such a wholesale basis would be inappropriate and, indeed, this is not what happened in Wandsworth which has been cited as the example the council should follow.
“Where there is case of a facility being valued by local people, they should first consider having it added to the list of assets of community value which would provide a degree of protection.”
Local resident Tina Brooker, who has led protests against the pub’s demolition, said: “I am despondent. We are not letting it go, because we have to side with the people. I will take it as far as I can.”
Members of the group are now considering their response to the council’s decisions.