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Victory for the Chesham!

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted May 07, 2015
the chesham arms in hackney
Saved at last! The Chesham Arms as was in Hackney. © Save the Chesham Action Group

Hackney local saved from destruction as publican signs 15-year lease with thwarted developer.

We've just received a press release from the Save the Chesham Action Group and it's bloody good news!

The Chesham Arms in London's Hackney, which we wrote about here, has been saved from destruction, with publican Andy Bird having now signed a 15-year lease with Mukund Patel, a property developer who bought the pub in October 2012 with the aim of converting it against the will of the local community.

Yep, after a long legal fight, the battle to save the Chesham has finally been won.

However, the building, the press release states, will require "significant work before it can reopen as the interior of the pub, including the bar, was removed as part of its controversial conversion to temporary offices and an unauthorised flat".

Nevertheless, the new operator intends to refurbish the boozer, Hackney's first pub to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, as "a traditional public house", something to which we here at the Rake & Herald will gladly raise a glass or three.

Probably four or five, in fact.

According to the press release, the signing of the lease "comes just one month after Hackney Council added a final layer of protection to the pub" in the form of an Article 4 Direction preventing "any change of use away from a pub without a full planning application".

Following this decision, the Save the Chesham Campaign wrote to the developer "and other investors in the site" to warn them that "there was no chance of permanent conversion of the pub – whether to a shop, betting shop, bank, offices or the flats originally intended".

"This is fantastic news and we wish the new operator all the best," says Campaign chairman, pub neighbour and former regular Jonathan Sockett.

"We are delighted that a pub built when these streets were first laid out around 150 years ago can now continue to provide a warm welcome to local people for decades to come."

"After almost 1,000 days closed, we are very much looking forward to our first pint back in the Chesham Arms."

"This shows what can be achieved when local people work together with their council, using the planning system to protect their community social infrastructure," adds James Watson, a fellow local resident and the Campaign for Real Ale's London Region pub protection advisor.

"The story of the Chesham Arms should act as a warning to other property developers that pubs should not be viewed as lucrative development opportunities, but an important part of the social fabric of our cities."

"Hackney Council have done sterling work in standing up to this developer and the neighbourhood never gave up on our pub."

"The reopening makes our combined effort worthwhile."

Sadly, with 29 pubs closing each week in the UK, the fate that once faced the Chesham is far from unique.

However, to read how one particularly unscrupulous property developer learnt the hard way that karma can be a right bitch when you dis with people's pubs, make sure you have a read of this.

Long live the Chesham and long live every pub under threat everywhere!

Save our pubs!

Boozers not bollocks!

See also Save the Chesham Arms!, posted 18/6/14, and UK pub closures escalate, posted 23/1/15, among others.

Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist, geographer and world traveller who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, coming an abysmal last and getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.

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