The historic Wenlock Arms pub has been saved from demolition following a decision by Hackney Council in December to extend the Regent’s Canal conservation area.
Thanks to tireless campaigning by the Save the Wenlock group of staff and regulars, the pub now has official status as a listed property, meaning the council can veto any attempts to destroy the building.
The owners of the pub, which is almost 200 years old and survived the Blitz, decided earlier in 2011 that they would knock it down to make space to build a block of flats. But Hackney Council rejected their planning application in September, voting down their plans on the basis that the pub has “historical value and architectural character”.
The Wenlock Warriors rejoiced at the council’s decision, but their mood was quickly dampened when owners pinned a notice of intent to demolish on the pub’s doors just weeks later.
Under the 1964 Building Act, the owners of a non-listed building do not need planning approval to demolish it. This left the Wenlock Arms vulnerable to potential developers.
But Hackney Council’s latest decision to extend the Hoxton conservation area to include Wenlock Road means the council now has the power to block any demolition proposals affecting the pub. The new conservation area came in to effect on Sunday 1 January.
The triumphant Save the Wenlock campaign has attracted supporters from all over London, even reaching ale-lovers from abroad. “I write from Toronto and have just heard the news”, wrote Lisa Amin on the group’s Facebook page. “Your work is much appreciated, as far away as the new world!”
Insa Heiss, 43, a London-based graphic designer who confesses to have fallen in love with the pub has been integral to the campaign, drumming up support on the pub’s Twitter account (@TheWenlockArms). When the owners first posted a notice of demolition on the pub, Ms Heiss set about gathering support from London’s celebrities to save her cherished Wenlock Arms.
She said: “I’ve sent letters to tons of celebrities who are linked to the Hoxton pub scene: Al Murray filmed part of his stand up show here last year, and Noel Fielding and Neil Morrissey love this pub too.
“I’ve even written to David Beckham because his grandad used to be a regular here.”
Whilst the campaign to save the Wenlock may be out of the woods for now, Ms Heiss says she expects the owners may appeal.
The owners of the pub were unavailable to comment at this time.
Note: The twitter details in this article were corrected at 2.50pm Friday 6 January 2012