http://www.kentonline.co.uk 18 November 2016, by Lizzie Massey.
Boost in bid to have Battle of Britain rebuilt to original state after
community asset bid.
Developers may be forced to rebuild a popular pub as an application
has gone in to turn it into a community asset.
The Battle of Britain in Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, was pulled down
under the cover of darkness last month prompting local people to insist
it be rebuilt “brick by brick”.
They hope that listing it as a community asset could mean developers are
forced to reconstruct it to the original specification and then offer it
for sale as a pub, rather than flats or houses.
The Battle of Britain pub in Gravesend before demolition began.
Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale, an independent body which campaigns
for community pubs and consumer rights has previously fought for The
"Crown and Thistle" pub in The Terrace, Gravesend, to be listed and now it
has applied to Gravesham council for the Battle of Britain to be listed
Peter Cook, the treasurer of the Gravesend and Darenth branch, said:
“The owners of the Battle have done wrong by knocking it down. If they
are allowed to get away with that, what is the point in any of these
“If the council cracks down they could be forced to rebuild it, and we
think they should. It can be done, it’s happening at the moment with
pubs in London.”
Residents, including a campaigner for the pub, Tina Brooker, and local
councillor Bronwen McGarrity, have said for some time that the former
landlord of the pub was obstructed by the owner in improvements to the
pub and left and since then the new management has run it down with a
sale in mind.
Mr Cook said: “Of course you can’t expect people to run an unviable
business, but in this case it seems the developer knew it would be
bought up as a pub.
“But housing on the same plot of land sells for much more than a pub
If the application is accepted and the pub rebuilt, the owner would need
to offer the Battle for sale as a pub initially.
Camra are confident somebody would buy it, but if not it would only be
at that stage the owner of the land could bulldoze or sell it for
building flats or houses in it place.
A council spokeswoman said: “There is a process to be followed and this
is on-going. Once this has been completed we will revisit the planning
Putnam Construction Services, contracted to carry out the work, has
declined to comment throughout this process.
As has the Brakspear Brewery owned by the applicant for the demolition
J. T Davies & Sons, Paul Sturgess of the developer the Caldecotte Group,
and the pub’s most recent manager Phil Davies.
Asbestos remains a cause of serious concern as campaigners for the pub,
which is right next to a school, say it was torn down without proper
Cllr Bronwen McGarrity, for Coldharbour ward, was among 50 people who
stood outside in protest last month, after council officers’ demands
that the developers to stop midway through the work were ignored.
“We know these workers have not taken proper safety measures and that is
a huge concern. There was not time for any asbestos checks, and there is
a school right next door,” she said.
Jill Inglis, from the Health and Safety Executive, said they were only
made aware of the demolition after it had happened.
She added: “We have followed up on concerns about the asbestos and are
satisfied the duty holder has managed the risk from asbestos
Tina Brooker, of The Warren, Gravesend, who is leading the campaign to
save the pub said: “I’ve seen the documents the HSE have, stating the
asbestos was all safely removed on October 12 but we know that the
building was already almost demolished. There’s no way surveys and safe
removals could have happened then.
“The HSE has just taken the document they’ve been sent on face value,
and don’t seem to want to dig deeper.
“There’s no mention of asbestos in the out buildings either, which the
previous landlord said was present.”
According to the HSE’s own regulations the duty holder of the
land/building must “locate and identify all ACM (asbestos containing
material) before any structural work begins at a stated location or on
stated equipment at the premises. It involves destructive inspection and
asbestos disturbance. The area surveyed must be vacated, and certified
fit for reoccupation after the survey”.
The owner of the land, J. T Davies & Sons, has been uncontactable to
verify this and the Messenger has asked HSE for confirmation.
The campaigners are calling on the council to follow in the footsteps of
Wandsworth which, this summer, issued a blanket Article 4 directive on
all its pubs and bars, which gives them greater protection and means
that any change of use or development of a pub would have to have
approval by the council.
The council is the first in the country to instigate Article 4.