Pub-to-flats plan met with hostility

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Prince Edward Pub, Hackney
Prince Edward Pub (Credit: Katie Marston)

Regulars rallied outside the “last West Indian hangout in London” on Sunday in a show of resistance against plans to replace it with luxury flats.

The owners have applied for planning permission to demolish The Prince Edward on Wick Road, Homerton,  and build nine flats with two cafés on the ground floor.

The loss of the Victorian pub is part of “a trend across the UK and Hackney” said Lisa Devaney, who helped lead the objectors’ social media campaign.

Ms Devaney, an American writer, added: “What I love is the community culture.  The loss to this community is a tragedy not just for Hackney but the world.

“It’s a unique tradition. It’s English heritage. It makes this area valuable. People want to see value and not just another impenetrable fortress of buildings. Nobody will build places like this again.”

The Prince Edward pub
Lisa Devaney calls for The Prince Edward pub not to be demolished. Credit: Katie Marston

The Prince Edward, 97 Wick Road, was bought in 2010 by Sandeep Johal but has been occupied by the current publican and her father since 2008.

Mr Johal, who runs JHS Property Investments Ltd, could not be reached for comment.

Around thirty people turned out in support of the pub. Natalie Neilson, 34, a part time barmaid who will lose her job if the demolition goes ahead, said she was “devastated” and it would be “like losing a little family.”  She explained how she had frequented the pub for years, visiting for the first time with her father in the 80s.

James Watson, Pub Preservation Officer of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and who is part of the campaign to save The Chesham Arms, Mehetabel Street, was also present.  He said: “[Mr Johal] earns a decent rent from the publican and his latest proposals to demolish the pub and replace it with flats is motivated purely by greed.

“There is no affordable housing; he’s exploiting the rising value of domestic land in order to make a quick buck.

“The current owners are “merely temporary custodians of the facility” he argued, explaining that the main reason for his objection was that the pub’s closure “is against public policy.

“What kind of neighbourhood would we have if there was nowhere for people to get together to talk?” asked Mr Watson, who has provided advice to the current tenants on the best way to fight the proposals.

The Prince Edward pub
The Prince Edward pub. Credit: Katie Marston

CAMRA has submitted an objection on the grounds that the pub is a community asset which has served the neighbourhood for 148 years.

Under the council’s Development Management Local Plan, currently pending government approval, pubs will be specifically protected unless they are replaced, or “the community facility is no longer required in its current use” and it cannot be used for any other community facility.

So far the council has received 5 written objections, confirmed Hackney Council. The deadline for all objections is 24 March.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Lisa – great to hear what was going on. Make sure you keep The Hackney Post updated with any developments!

  2. Thank you Katie for coming out to see The Prince Edward pub in Homerton. I hope all the attention will help people become aware of the threat to demolish this beautiful community gem. To lose this pub would be tragic for our community and even for all of the world who cherish the history and community of England’s famous pubs. I really hope that Hackney Council decides to protect our heritage this time. We’ve lost so much already here to greed-fueled development. Let’s not let it happen again!

  3. It will be a shame to see the end of the last West Indian pub in a diverse community.

    Its a shame it’s always the community with less money always has things taken from under their feet, its as though were worth nothing – come on folks we need to unite and fight this cause, we have contributed to society why should we be the less fortunate ones?. Sooner than later the West Indian community will be like dogs in a kennel (our homes) with nowhere to go.

    Prince Edward is the only pub that caters for all, Thursday nights complimentary curry with Irish Folk songs, etc. Mothers Day bbq 30 March free for all, Oldies nights, Charity fund raising etc. Wake UP…Support Prince Edward Pub. Hackney Council needs to reject the planning application. Wick Rd looks like concrete city both sides of the road are just flats no shops until Barnabas Rd further along all flat until the Eagle Pub come on Hackney council.

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