Westminster City Council looks set to force the developer behind the demolition of an historic London pub to rebuild an exact replica on the site
On 8 April, the Carlton Tavern pub in Kilburn, which was due to be recommended for listing, was flattened without City of Westminster Council being informed.
Council officers have since prepared an enforcement notice which could see developer CTLX facing an order to restore the pub to its original condition within 18 months.
John Walker, director of planning at Westminster City Council, said: ‘Obviously, we cannot pre-empt any decision, but this shows how important the issue is to local residents and the council, and officers have worked hard to bring this to the committee as quickly as possible.
‘We are still liaising with Historic England and DCMS and the advice provided by them will help to determine the final course of action.’
The enforcement notice is subject to confirmation from the culture secretary that the building would have been listed. It is understood Historic England (formerly English Heritage) was poised to recommend the 1920s public house for listing.
A letter sent to the council by Historic England on 30 March – just over a week before the demolition – said that the heritage watchdog was treating the case as ‘urgent’.
The council report also revealed that it believes the demolition was in breach of amendments to protect historic pubs from demolition which came into force just two days before the demolition.
The new rules allow buildings under threat to be designated as protected ‘assets of community value’ before or after applications to demolish them are submitted.
A report by planning officers released this week also gave more details about the chain of events surrounding the demolition.
It said that, at 1pm on 8 March, calls to the council’s call centre and from a local councillor advised that demolition works were underway.
By the time a council planning enforcement officer arrived around an hour later, the building had been substantially demolished with only a side wall and a small part of the front elevation still standing.
The report said that the structure was in a dangerous condition. ‘It was clear that the building had been demolished with extreme haste without the usual precautions of hoardings, road closures, etc, and there was evidence that fixtures and fittings that had not been removed prior to the commencement of the demolition works.’
The report said that rubble on site is likely to contain fragments which are sufficiently intact to recreate details of the building including as internal joinery and plasterwork. However it said that sourcing external facing materials are likely to be expensive and time-consuming to procure.
Photos and old plans from archive stories could be used to guide the rebuilding process, the report added.
Westminster listed a number of previous cases in the borough where facsimile rebuilding has taken place, including another enforcement case at 48 Upper Grosvenor Street which is being restored following the unlawful destruction of its Art Deco mirrored interior.