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Council refuses demolition application of the battle of Britain pub, Northfleet, despite it already being torn down

By Lizzie Massey

An application for the proposed demolition of a pub has today been refused - despite the fact it has already been torn down.

What was once a much-loved family pub, the Battle of Britain in Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, is now just a hole in the ground.

More than 50 people stood outside the flattened remains last week in protest at it being illegally bulldozed in the dead of night.

An aerial shot of the site where the Battle of Britain stood. Picture: Charly Croker

Developer Caldecotte Group applied to the council on October 5 to ask whether permission was needed for demolition.

That application had not been decided by the council, but on October 11 the developer started to tear it down illegally without the council’s knowledge.

Today, Gravesham council reviewed and refused the application.

The authority said actions by the developer had fallen outside of the The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 on three counts, so approval cannot be retrospectively validated.

Battle of Britain pub being demolished in Gravesend without permission

The developer's site notice must be displayed for 21 days prior to the demolition works commencing, which it was not.

There is a 56 day period between the developer writing to confirm whether the building has been nominated as an Assets of Community Value, which had not been reached.

The developer had not provided a written justification as to why demolition was urgent and necessary in the interests of safety or health, which is a requirement too.

Given the unlawful actions, the operation enforcement action is being considered by the council.

The Battle of Britain pub in Gravesend before demolition began.

A spokesman said: “Gravesham Borough Council is considering the expediency of further action and is seeking legal advice on this matter.”

Cllr Bronwen McGarrity, for Coldharbour ward, was among the 50 people furious with the demolition, and that council officers’ demands that the developers to stop mid way through the destruction were ignored.

Cllr McGarrity said: “It’s the way these developers have gone about all this which has angered people.

“From what I understand, at the end of the month a different developer will be involved, and the demolition company was also externally contracted. All these changes makes it very hard to pin anybody down.”

Demonstrators outside the site of the former Battle of Britain pub, Coldharbour Road, Northfleet.

There is a chance to list the pub as a community asset, but it would mean a person or community group buying the land.

Cllr McGarrity said: “This site is a quarter of an acre. People just don’t have the money to buy it up.

“We know these workers have not taken proper safety measures and that is a huge concern. There was not time for any asbestos checks, and there is a school right next door.”

The Health and Safety Executive has been contacted for a comment, but no reply has been received.

Putnam Construction Services, contracted to carry out the work, has declined to comment.

As has the Brakspear Brewery owned by the applicant for the demolition J. T Davies & Sons, Paul Sturgess of the Caldecotte Group and the pub’s most recent manager Phil Davies.

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