Sunday, 31 July 2016

You broke it - you fix it! II

The Carlton Tavern, with protests on the hoarding
(pic from Google maps)
In April last year, I wrote that Westminster City Council had ordered developers CLTX to rebuild the Carlton Tavern in Kilburn, a pub they had knocked down just days before it was due to be given listed status. The building was noted for its unaltered 1920s interiors and finely tiled exterior. It was also the only building in the entire street to survive the Blitz during World War II: what Hitler couldn't do, etc. I welcomed Westminster's decision at the time but assumed that the developers would be able pull their usual strings to get the decision reversed, and that would be that.

I'm glad to say I was wrong. The council didn't give up, but instead awarded the pub ACV status, even though it had been flattened, and Historic England joined in by listing it. More recently, a planning inspector has ruled in favour of the council. The full story is here. CLTX can still appeal, and I expect they will. However, they probably assumed this site would have been redeveloped and sold long before now, but instead they are having to pay a fortune just to dispute the order. If they ultimately lose, they will have the additional cost of compulsorily rebuilding the pub to the original specifications. If they win, it will still have been an extremely expensive and drawn-out case. I bet they wish they hadn't done it now.

As John Walker, Westminster's director of planning, said: “Up until this point people think you knock these things down the problem goes away and we get away with it. Now they realise they can’t anymore. It can have a knock-on effect.”

I mentioned on 7 July that a planning inspector had upheld Tower Hamlets' refusal of planning permission for a block of flats that would have had serious adverse effects on the business of the George Tavern right next door. It's good to see that at least some local authorities are standing up to corporate bullying by developers who tend to rely on the reluctance of many councils to take up cases which - if lost - would have to paid for out of the threadbare public purse. Let's hope these examples encourage some others to follow suit.

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