Croydon Council faces a legal challenge, after its planning committee last night refused permission for the development of The Ship pub in South Norwood – for a third time. The fall-out from the Town Hall meeting could also represent the first serious test of the Labour-run council’s landlord licensing scheme.
Members of the planning committee may also be having some strong words in private with council employees, who failed to take any enforcement action against the property owner who last year went ahead and converted parts of the property into seven flats, which have been rented out since.
Indeed, council officers spent the past six months working with the property owner to re-submit the planning application for retrospective permission.
That application for planning permission – following two previous refusals – was refused last night, to the delight of a group of South Norwood residents, who want to re-open the pub as an Asset of Community Value, which would give it protected status from future speculative development.
The Ship is a 160-year-old pub on South Norwood High Street, which closed its doors as a local boozer in 2014.
The Save The Ship campaigners are trying to raise £200,000 towards the cost of re-opening the pub as a community-run business, along similar lines to the successful Hope pub in Carshalton.
The future of the seven tenants in the illegal conversion of The Ship seems uncertain. Their landlord could also be one of the first to be pursued by Croydon Council under its new landlord licensing scheme, which attempts to ensure that private rented property is up to certain minimum standards.
According to one Save the Ship campaigner at last night’s Town Hall planning meeting, “We feel sorry for the tenants but they will now have to move out. The properties don’t have sufficient ventilation and are not up to building standard.
“The owner also faces a fine as his application for a landlord licence will be refused due to the flats not meeting building regulations.
“We will again write to the developer with an offer regarding purchasing The Ship building.
“It’s been a long struggle but this refusal represents a turning point. Even I am shocked at how quickly this joker got his appeal in. We need to expose him as the pub-wrecking, community-destroying, rapacious developer that he is.”
Last year, the developer’s agent, Ehsan Amouzandeh, had claimed to be acting on behalf of “an old lady” who had made the investment for her pension. Then, Amouzandeh said his client would be willing to listen to any financial offers by groups wanting to keep The Ship as a pub.
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