A judge has ruled that the Chesham Arms is to retain its status as an asset of community value, following an unsuccessful appeal by developers.
The verdict marks the first successful defence of an appeal against listing a pub as an ACV in the country and is therefore a major victory for campaigners everywhere who want to save community facilities from developers.
Judge Nick Warren heard arguments put forward from Hackney Council, planning developers on behalf of the owner Mukund Patel and campaigners over two hours before deciding that it was realistic “to think that the land will further the social well being of the community in the next five years.”
Following the hearing, James Watson, Pub Preservation Officer of Campaign for Real Ale, said: “Of course I’m going to say that I thought the tribunal judge made exactly the right decision in dismissing the appeal and I hope that Mr Patel, the owner of the pub, will not waste any more time or money taking the appeal to yet a higher court.”
But the campaigners are still not out of the woods yet. Patel could still take the legal battle further to a higher court such as the supreme court or the house of Lords.
Watson said: “I think by the time he’s spent that much money it would be much better for him to sell the pub to one of the many people who want to buy It, take it over and bring it back into the community.”
Tony Allen, managing director of Allen Planning, the developers working alongside Patel, told ELL: “We were obviously disappointed with Thursday’s verdict, we will await the judge’s written report and then give consideration to whether an appeal is justifiable.”
Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe, said: “Our concern all along has been to protect The Chesham Arms from developers and to retain it as a valuable community hub.”
“Pubs like the Chesham Arms bring together local residents and help to build close neighbourhoods, and they deserve to be protected. The current owner should either re-open this historic building as a pub or sell it to someone who will.”
“The pub was valued at £300k by an independent surveyor. Patel paid £650k. Nobody knows why. He has removed the bar now and erected some cheap partitions to try to create two offices. These works are fully reversible but since he has allowed the premises licence to expire, we are advised that the value is somewhere around £220k now”, said Watson.
The Chesham Arms became Hackney’s first ACV in March 2011 but was closed by its owners October 2012, after they claimed that it was no longer profitable. Due to its status as an ACV, the owners were not able to sell the pub without offering community groups the chance to purchase it.
The next step for the campaign is to carry on putting pressure on Patel to sell the pub.
You can keep up to date with the movements of Save the Chesham here.
Video by Hannah Ashton, Valerie Siebert, Thomas Bristow and Takeshi Kosaka.