Croydon Council has served an enforcement notice, somewhat belatedly, on the owners of The Ship in South Norwood.
The 160-year-old pub closed in 2014, and its new owners set about converting it into seven flats. Without first getting planning permission.
The Ship has seen elected councillors at odds with the actions of the council officials in the planning department of Fisher’s Folly, the council HQ. Officials have previously tried to work with the developers to get their unapproved flats to comply with building and planning regulations, despite the opposition from local residents and ward councillors.
Now, the flats could also see the owners facing fines of up to £20,000 on each property, under Croydon’s Labour council’s new landlord licensing scheme. The properties do not comply with minimum standards and were unlicensed.
Croydon Council has so far refused to comment on whether it is seeking to use its new powers to protect tenants, although its legal position may be somewhat comprised by the actions of council officials who spent the best part of a year collaborating with the building’s developers to make the scheme compliant.
The enforcement notice gives the owners five months in which to evict their tenants, remove the mansard roof that they have built on to the property without permission, remove the PVC windows which are not in keeping with the building, and return The Ship to a shell suitable for use as a pub and remove the conversions. This latter condition could prove particularly costly.
The building owners, ZB Investments, have the right to appeal.
Last month, a spokesman for the owners’ agents said that the planning committee’s decision “was entirely political”, accusing them of pandering to local campaign group, Save The Ship, who want to buy the building and restore it to use as a pub and asset of community value.
The owners’ agent said: “They think that somehow that by refusing it will allow Save The Ship to buy the pub. But my client is not selling the building.”
Although now, maybe they are: sources in the Save The Ship campaign suggest that a price tag of £1 million has been placed on the building – though it seems unlikely that anyone will want to buy the old pub until the current owners have met the council’s conditions, or the planning impasse has been resolved.
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