- Tower Hamlets
A historic Limehouse pub may be closed as Tower Hamlets council prepares to sell the land it’s leased on.
The Queen’s Head on Flamborough Street is among three being touted for sale by the council, alongside the Blue Anchor in Bow and the Old Ship in Shadwell.
The council is aiming to sell the Grade II listed building to new owners, who could either to continue the lease or end it and redevelop the site.
But Denise Jones, Labour councillor for St. Katherine’s and Wapping, says the benefit of the sale to the public is unclear.
Jones said: “The cabinet report doesn’t state how much the council does benefit from selling off or passing on the leases of those three buildings.”
“The cabinet is making decisions with very little information, and it is an irresponsible way of selling off council assets.”
A statement from the council said the future of the pub would be a matter for negotiation and agreement between the leaseholders and the new owners, who would be within their rights to close it.
It said: “The council has taken a decision to sell its freehold interest to generate much needed capital receipts for re-investment in other council priorities such as the provision of affordable housing.”
“The pubs are let on commercial leases and will continue to operate but owned by the private sector rather than the council.
“The current leaseholders will have the opportunity to purchase the freeholds when the properties are marketed.”
The council said it routinely disposed of propoerties “not held for a specific service use” and that it saw no long-term “strategic” benefit to continue holding the pub.
The council’s Housing Forum pledged to meet London-wide affordable housing targets on Monday September 10.
But Jones said: “It has been done very quickly without a lot of consultation. These buildings being sold are small businesses and they are all successful.
“It is profiteering with a short-term view and not seeing the longer-term with the assets of the council.”
A lease exchange would mean process of bidding and negotiations between the current leaseholders and the new owners.
The pub’s website claims: “We can’t prove it but we have good reason to think that the Queens Head could well have been the inspiration for the Queen Vic in Eastenders.”
It was visited by the Queen Mother in 1987, who pulled a pint of Young’s ale and allegedly preferred it to champaigne being served for her arrival.
If the pub closes, Jones claimed, regulars would lose a community asset.
She said said: “There are very few pubs left. They are social hubs for sections of the community. They can be places for older people to find a bit of company and a drink.”