The Victorian Society has called for the long-closed Leslie Arms on Lower Addiscombe Road to be found a new owner to save the building and re-open it as a pub.
The Grade II-listed Leslie Arms has been closed for more than 20 years, and yesterday was placed on the Victorian Society’s list of the country’s buildings from the 19th century most-at-danger of being lost forever.
“It is vital that we get the public’s help to try to save our threatened heritage,” said Christopher Costelloe, the director of the Victorian Society.
The pub was built in red brick in the arts and crafts style around 1900 (according to Historic England, though there are records to suggest it dates back to the 1860s).
The Victorian Society said, “This pub is permanently closed, despite many planning applications. Built by Croydon brewers Nalder & Colyer, this pub occupies a prominent position at the south end of Cherry Orchard Road, but has been closed for several years.
“In an area undergoing so much development, it is crucial that pieces of our heritage such as this are protected.”
The building is owned by Anwar Ansari, the controversial local property developer and sometime local Labour Party chair and donor. It is currently surrounded by hoardings and scaffolding while repair work is carried out to the roof.
Repeated instances of squatters breaking into the building from the time before Ansari bought the property have left some of the interior, which is also subject to Historic England listing, badly damaged.
Existing residential accommodation in the upper floors was closed down last year due to fire safety concerns.
The current owner has spent two years in negotiations with the council’s planning department, while also commissioning a series of reports required by the planners.
Ansari’s plans for thee building involve developing the upper floors into flats while using the ground floor and cellar areas for a faith-based community centre. There is, though, a sense that the enormity of the task in meeting the requirements of the building’s listed heritage is proving to be a significant challenge.
In meetings with the planners and local councillors, Ansari is understood to have laid out that he does not plan for returning the building to pub use, though he has been keen to stress how he is determined to restore the building to its former glories and how the place could become a thriving asset for the community.
But the Victorian Society’s Costelloe believes that the pub building should, and could, be returned to its original purpose. “Victorian pubs are closing all over the country and it is no surprise that this year there is one on our Top 10 Endangered List,” he said.
“A particularly intractable case, this is a building of great quality where continued pub use should be viable. The right owner is needed!”
Because of the building’s listed status, any major changes to the exterior or interior would need approval not only from Croydon Council, but also from the government agency, Historic England.
The Addiscombe West councillors issued a statement to Inside Croydon today, stating, “The Grade II-listed Leslie Arms is a landmark building for this part of Addiscombe and the owner needs to bring it back into public use as a community asset, either as a public house or local community centre.
“It can’t be left to fall into further disrepair as its current state is a drag on the fortunes of surrounding businesses on Cherry Orchard Road and Lower Addiscombe Road.”
Given that the owner’s applications have been with the council’s planning department since 2017, the councillors might want to have a word with the Town Hall’s planners…
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