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Historic Wandsworth Pub to be Rebuilt After Illegal Demolition

A London property developer is facing expensive and time-consuming consequences after illegally demolishing a historic pub in Wandsworth: the local council has ordered them to rebuild it ‘brick by brick’.

The guerilla developer applied for, and was refused, retrospective planning permission after the Battersea pub was razed without consent. Planning permission was especially critical in this instance because the pub was in a conservation area.

When the Wandsworth Borough Council first realised that the Alchemist pub had been illegally bulldozed, their response was to order the developer, Udhyam Amim, to completely rebuild it.

Trying to avoid the expensive reconstruction order, the developer claimed that his plans indicated that the site was an immediate danger, and had to be knocked down right away in the interests of the public safety.

The local authority rejected the arguments, and ordered Mr Amim to start rebuilding the local landmark immediately.

The Alchemist pub, which stood near Clapham Junction Station, was built during the Victorian era and was a community fixture for over 100 years. It became derelict in 2013.

This is not the year’s first instance of a pub being knocked down by ambitious London property developers without the proper permission being obtained beforehand. Earlier in 2015, the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale was bulldozed without the approval of the local authorities. In May, the Carlton’s owners were ordered to rebuild the property.

Wandsworth Borough Council released a statement indicating that the developer’s application had been refused because the loss of a valued local landmark and well-known historic building would not be in the public interest.

The council added that the developer would now be required to commence work on rebuilding the Alchemist and restoring it to its original condition.

Cllr Sarah McDermott, planning chairman, openly accused Mr. Amim of trying to obtain permission in an underhanded manner.

She stated that in the council’s opinion, the demolition was a major breach of planning regulations and the only possible way to correct the situation was the complete reconstruction of the historic property, using original materials and the same architectural design.


Structural Defects Insurance

The consensus was that the pub was an important part of the St John’s Hill Grove conservation area and many local people were upset by the demolition. That was why the council took action to restore it to full use for future generations.

Wandsworth Borough Council also plans to use its authority to give more than 120 local pubs added protection from development attempts.

Article 4 directions have been proposed in the instances of local bars and pubs that have architectural, historic, or community value. This essentially means that their owners would be required to apply for permission before demolishing them or converting them to a different use entirely, such as a supermarket.

Permitted development rights as they presently stand do not always require pub owners to seek planning permission before knocking down a pub or changing its use. Article 4 directions take away permitted development rights and allow council planners the opportunity to decide if the changes should be allowed.


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