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Residents step up battle to protect pubs following illegal demolition of The Battle of Britain

PUBLISHED: 13:47 01 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:47 01 November 2016

Protestors outside the demolished site of the Battle of Britain. Picture credit: Jack Thornton.

Protestors outside the demolished site of the Battle of Britain. Picture credit: Jack Thornton.

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Article 4 legislation prevents pubs from being sold on to developers and retailers

Residents angered by the demolition of a historic Gravesend pub are taking action to prevent other public houses in the borough from suffering a similar fate.

The demolition of the Battle of Britain pub on in Northfleet last month sparked protests after developers began work before approval had been granted by the council.

Now residents are hoping to introduce an Artice 4 direction, which would mean local councillors are given a say in the potential change of use of a property.

The legislation has already been introduced in some areas, saving pubs in Lewisham and Wandsworth from being turned into supermarkets and other types business.

Tina Brooker, who lives on Valley Drive, Gravesend, said: “It is going on across the country. If the business is going down I can understand it, but that is not always the case and it wasn’t the case here.

“The Battle of Britain was not unpopular. I spoke to a previous landlord and he wanted to buy it.

“We have had a lot of pubs in the area go up in flames.”

A group has been set up - the Battle of Britain Pub Community Group - to voice locals’ concerns, and residents have applied for the Coldharbour Road site to be designated an Asset of Community Value, meaning they would have six months to mount a bid for it.

But Article 4 legislation goes further, protecting the future of the site as a pub in the long term from being sold on to a developer, retailer or other party.

The legislation will have to be granted by Gravesham Council before it can be used to save other pubs from redevelopment.

“I am optimistic,” Mrs Brooker added. “It depends how much the council care about the people in the community.

“Wandsworth councillors care about their community, but we will see if Gravesend do or not.”

The community group has a Facebook page that residents can join if they want to get involved in the campaign.

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