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Future of demolished Battle of Britain pub in Northfleet uncertain as debate rages on


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The final decision on building more than two dozen homes on the site of an illegally demolished pub has been put back.

Gravesham councillors deferred action over the proposed development for the Battle of Britain in Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, at a planning committee meeting this week.

The Battle of Britain pub was demolished without permission. Photo: Lizzie Massey
The Battle of Britain pub was demolished without permission. Photo: Lizzie Massey

People were furious when bulldozers arrived at the boozer and started to tear it down without permission from Gravesham council more than three years ago.

The authority had obtained an order for workers to stop, only to be ignored and later told the historic landmark would have to be demolished because it was structurally unsafe.

Planning officers recommended approval on Wednesday for the redevelopment of the site but councillors applied the breaks.

If approved, the project would consist of 20 homes made up of six lots of three bedroom houses and 14 two and one bed flats.

There will be 32 car parking spaces, room for cycle storage, a private communal gardens and an access road on to New House Lane.

The site of the pub, now almost totally demolished and removed. Picture: Andy Payton
The site of the pub, now almost totally demolished and removed. Picture: Andy Payton

A decision on the development was requested by Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox (Lab).

Speaking at the planning committee meeting, he said the building held "special memories for many local people" and called for its preservation.

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Lee Croxton (Lab), was in agreement, asking it be rebuilt "brick-by-brick".

Several members of the campaign group Battle of Britain Community Group – launched in an attempt to preserve the building as an asset of community value – were also present.

Tina Brooker, of The Warren, Gravesend, spearheads the group and said people were still just as aggrieved about the pub's fate.

She had expressed a preference for the council to reclaim the land after she said the developers "broke so many rules".

Demonstrators outside the site of the former Battle of Britain pub, Coldharbour Road, Northfleet. Picture: Andy Payton
Demonstrators outside the site of the former Battle of Britain pub, Coldharbour Road, Northfleet. Picture: Andy Payton

"People feel it is now lost," she said. "We had tried to take them [the developers] to court to make them rebuild it."

But the campaigner conceded it was looking increasingly unlikely the pub would be salvaged adding "we have lost our battle to save our history".

She now hopes the site could be reused in a purposeful way but dismissed the current plans, which include three-storey buildings, as "not in keeping with the area".

Instead she argued it might be better served by providing bungalows for elderly residents, which in turn she said would free up existing properties to meet the council's housing targets.

An asbestos survey was carried out on the pub site but only after some of the demolition had already started, and it was incorrectly dated as August instead of October.

The group argues this raises suspicions and makes it impossible to be assured over the mineral, with exposure linked to diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

The Battle of Britain pub in its former glory. Picture: John Westhrop
The Battle of Britain pub in its former glory. Picture: John Westhrop

Ms Brooker received unconfirmed reports from the previous owner this was located in the boiler room.

She says this could have an affect in the future on the adjoining land which includes Shears Green Junior School.

There has also been various issues with fly-tipping on site.

The current design proposals also include a provision for public art related to the site's historical connections with the 1940 Battle of Britain.

An idea was put before councillors that this might take the form of a Spitfire.

Council leader Cllr John Burden (Lab) asked who would be responsible for looking after this to which the planning officers replied it would be incorporated as a"legal obligation" going forward.

He added while the circumstances surrounding the pub's demolition was regrettable, it should not prevent the site from being repurposed for future use.

The next planning meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday February 5 at 7pm.

​Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

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