Published: 13:59, 12 June 2020
| Updated: 14:03, 12 June 2020
A plan to demolish a historic pub and build flats is being condemned as a "wanton destruction" of an iconic landmark.
The proposal for The Orb in Ramsgate Road, Margate, has caused outrage, with critics demanding demolition is resisted at all costs.
The pub, which shut in 2017, occupies the site of what is believed to have been the oldest hostelry in Margate, built in 1498 and selling ale from 1502, during the reign of Henry VII.
Margate Civic Society is urging developers Grifo Development Ltd to rethink the plans and instead of scrapping the vacant boozer, convert and extend the existing building.
"The existing structure has graced the site for almost 200 years and deserves better than this," said Geoff Orton, the group's honorary secretary, in an objection lodged to Thanet District Council.
"We are utterly opposed to the obliteration from the landscape of this iconic and much loved local historic landmark.
"The only motive that supports the proposal derives from maximising profit from the site at the expense of local history and this must be rejected at all costs.
"We only get one opportunity to preserve history and a rejection of this proposal would reflect the esteem in which we hold this building."
The planning application, which will be discussed by councillors on Wednesday, seeks the demolition of the pub building, which was the Crown and Sceptre until 1962, and the erection of 12 flats and two maisonettes.
In a statement, DHA Planning, writing on behalf of Grifo Development Ltd, says the building is of limited local heritage significance, which is outweighed by the benefits.
"This application seeks to make effective and best use of a vacant, sustainably located and previously developed site within the urban area.
"The proposal will make a positive contribution towards meeting the council’s current shortfall in housing land supply and deliver a good mix of accommodation.
"The former pub use has been shown to be unviable, despite repeated attempts by a series of former landlords and despite past investment.
"Its redevelopment will not leave the area deficient in public houses and the site does not lend itself easily to any other community use."
A Thanet council conservation officer says although the inn is of some local significance and developmental history, there is "reduced intrinsic heritage value that remains within the property".
But Mr Orton points to the Crown and Sceptre in Acol, of which a similar application to demolish the pub and build houses was refused in 2017 following a huge backlash by residents and Margate Civic Society.
Thanet council then ordered the owner to carry out repair works and the building can be converted into two houses.
Mr Orton added: "The society would fully support similar proposals for The Orb - with some imagination and flair, together with the use of appropriate materials, it should be possible for it to be sympathetically converted and even extended to provide units of accommodation that respect the setting and style of this attractive building which has stood on the site for almost 200 years."
To see the full plans visit www.thanet.gov.uk and search ref F/TH/19/1025.