Published: 00:01, 02 April 2018
Mystery continues to surround the future of a derelict pub as a councillor revealed he had been “overwhelmed” with complaints about it.
The Share and Coulter in Owls Hatch Road has remained empty since it was snapped up by an unknown bidder for £265,000 at an auction in September 2015.
Since then, it has been targeted by fly-tippers and thieves and the city council has spent thousands of pounds removing rubbish dumped outside.
Last month scaffolding was erected and sheets were draped over the former pub's roof in order to prevent leaks and to ready the listed building for work.
Rickie Hamilton, the director of AL Scaffolding, said: “I believe work’s being done on the timber joists at the moment and then it’ll be re-roofed.
“All of the ceiling, plasterboards and cosmetics inside are damaged, but, in terms of the infrastructure, it’s all pretty solid.
“I think the owner’s main concern is covering the roof and making it all watertight – it’d be silly to do anything but clear up inside beforehand because it’d just get damaged.”
Mr Hamilton, 35, added that “a few of the tiles were stolen” from the roof and that the building may have been broken into because shutters have been placed on windows across the property.
He understands that the owner originally intended to convert the Share and Coulter into a nursing home but is now contemplating moving his family into it.
“I don’t think he really knows what to do with it,” Mr Hamilton continued.
“I think he saw the land, its potential and the price but hadn’t really planned what he’d do with it all.”
Greenhill Cllr David Hirst (Ind) says he has been inundated with “hundreds” of complaints at his ward surgeries from people wanting the Share and Coulter to be “returned to a respectable condition”.
“I think it's going to sit like that for a long, long time unless the council takes some enforcement action, and it doesn't like going down that avenue,” he said.
“It is quite a good site for an old people's home so perhaps the owner will come back to that idea.”
Before it was sold by Shepherd Neame in September 2015, the pub was being run by Trevor and Claire Robinson.
They tried to work with the new owner to reopen it and continued to live in it, but had trouble with flooding and a subsequent rat infestation.
Mr Robinson returned to the pub in April 2016, five months after moving out, to salvage some of his possessions and was “absolutely horrified” with how it looked.
“You can stand on the ground floor and look all the way up to the roof rafters,” he said.
“The ceiling had gone, the floors had all been ripped up, and every bit of copper and stainless steel had gone from the building.”