Save Chesham Arms group urges Hackney Council to act in row over flats

Chesham Arms

The Chesham Arms closed. Photograph: Jessica Smith

Outraged residents are urging Hackney Council to act on what they claim is evidence that Hackney’s first Asset of Community Value, the Chesham Arms pub, is being split up and turned into flats with no planning permission.

The pub was listed by Hackney Council as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in March and Hackney’s Mayor Jules Pipe told members of the Save the Chesham Group that the council had written to the developer to advise that planning permission was required for a self-contained flat.

Neighbours of the Mehetabel Road pub in Homerton say they found an advertisement for the flat on the Zoopla website last month and the historic pub has since been stripped of its sign and the pub benches from the front have been removed.

A spokesman for the building’s owner Mukund Patel denied splitting the pub into flats, adding: “It is offices at ground floor only with the flat staying on first floor, as was always the case.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of a breach of planning regulations at the Chesham Arms and are currently preparing an enforcement report in preparation for any necessary further action.”

Save the Chesham campaigner James Watson said the council’s support for the pub must be backed up with serious action.

He said: “We have had warm words of encouragement from Mayor Pipe and Councillor Guy Nicholson.

“Now they must demonstrate to their constituents that pub protection is not just a political soundbite but something on which they are ready to walk as well as talk.”

The Chesham Arms was a working pub until it was sold in October 2012.

The new owner announced his intention to convert the pub into flats late last year.

However, no application has been made for planning permission.

The owner later informed Hackney Council of his plans to turn the ground floor into temporary offices for two years, a move classified as “permitted development” under rules governing ACVs.

According to campaigners the owner is currently in the process of mounting a legal appeal against the council’s decision to award the pub ACV status.

Campaigners say they will be attending the hearing and encourage concerned members of the public to come along to show their support on the day.

Last year the campaigners countered arguments that the pub had not been “financially viable” by pointing to a number of old Hackney pubs that had recently reopened.