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Former Amazon and Tiger pub, Harvel, near Meopham can run as B&B

A closed, century-old rural pub has been given permission to run as a bed and breakfast, despite fears from villagers they’ll lose “the social heart of the community.”

The Amazon and Tiger in Harvel, near Meopham, was built in 1914, and closed in April 2021 when the landlord retired.

The former Amazon and Tiger pub, Harvel, as it is now
The former Amazon and Tiger pub, Harvel, as it is now

Other than a short period before the current owner bought it more than 20 years ago, the building had been a pub continuously since 1914.

It was declared an Asset of Community Value after a successful application by Meopham Parish Council in May 2021, and the landlord has permission to still live above the pub.

The Localism Act introduced a Community Right to Bid for Assets of Value to the Community, meaning if the pub ever comes up for sale, locals have up to six months to raise the funds to bid for it themselves.

Previously, the Amazon and Tiger had permission to function as a B&B as long as it was still a working pub but the newly-granted permission allows the premises to be used as a B&B even though the hostelry is closed.

The council received 63 letters opposing the application, with locals raising fears this would be the first step to the community hub being used purely as a residential building, and that the B&B hasn’t actually been let for about 18 months.

The Amazon and Tiger in 2019. Picture: Google Streetview
The Amazon and Tiger in 2019. Picture: Google Streetview

People raised concerns with the council that a relative of the owner was living in the B&B permanently, however a visit by officers found “no evidence that this is the case.”

The owner told the council they intend to start marketing the B&B again soon.

A group called the Harvel Collective has been active in trying to keep the pub open.

Vice chairman of the Harvel Collective James Beadle said: “With Harvel being a small village, it’s still an active, social village. And most of the social activities until 2021 were focused on the pub.”

Residents and members of the collective feel that the closing of the pub has damaged social life in the area.

Harvel Collective chairman Nicky Collins said: “It’s the social heart of the community, really.

“It is a rural community and you don’t always get to meet people. It was where people would go to meet in the village. It’s where events would take place, various groups were based there.”

A local running club, bicycle polo club, and choir formerly used the venue for meetings.

She added that the pub was “the sort of place where you could just pop in for a drink and meet your friends from the village. So we’ve really lost that heart in Harvel now.”

Local residents are also adamant that the pub is economically viable, and that it could be run successfully by either the community or another landlord.

“Some of the local villages which aren’t much bigger than Harvel still have successful pubs,” Mr Beadle said.

“Cobham, which is not much more than five or 10 miles away, has three pubs which operate successfully.

“Luddesdown has a smaller population than Harvel, and has two successful pubs.

“Whether it was a community-run pub, or it was purchased by an individual or a consortium or whatever, we firmly believe that with the right approach it could be very successful,” he added.

Gravesham council gave permission for the pub to now function as a B&B at a meeting of the planning committee on November 23.

Attempts were made to contact the former pub for comment without success.

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