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Estate agency ordered to vacate Westminster pub

An estate agency that has been operating in a historic pub in St. John’s Wood has been ordered to vacate by Westminster Council.

Champion Estates has been working out of The Star in the North London district since March, after a successful campaign by local residents to stop the pub being turned into luxury flats.

In February the building was awarded Asset of Community Value status by Westminster Council, which halted it being converted into residential space.


Estate Agent Today reported in March that locals were unhappy that the building was being used as an estate agents and now, after an investigation, the council’s planning enforcement team has ordered Champion Estates to vacate the premises within 28 days.

The planning enforcement team found that by housing an estate agency business, the building’s owners are violating its planning permission.

The freehold owner of the site, West End Investment Group, has been told by the council that The Star’s only lawful use remains as a public house and that it cannot be used as anything else.

If Champion Estates does not vacate the site by June 16, the council has said it will take ‘enforcement action’.

“I welcome the council taking tough action and have been pressing them on this since The Star closed,” Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, told The West End Extra news. 

“Landlords and developers must learn that they are not free to do as they wish regardless of planning rules and safeguards – however limited,” she added.

Champion Estates is owned by Gray Champion. He said in March that he was torn between how he could maintain the feeling of what the pub used to be and still make it an estate agency.

Champion told West End Extra that his company is still trading at the premises and that at this stage he has ‘no intentions of moving anywhere else.’

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    Poor old Gray. It is not his fault - he has merely signed a lease with the freeholders so the ball is in their court. Unfortunately for him, being an estate agent and a named person in this scenario will only make him the scapegoat for the local campaigners

  • Jon  Tarrey

    Good. Was ridiculous what they were trying to do!

  • Rob  Davies

    Probably a good thing. Our reputation is bad enough, if we start inhabiting historic pubs and annoying local residents, it's not going to get any better.

  • Jamie  Humm

    If the pub's not in use, couldn't it be brought back into use as a pub or something else. Seems a bit silly to just have it sitting there, doing nothing. Seems to me like Champion Estates were just showing a bit of initiative.

    Can see why people are up in arms about it, not wanting their local to be turned into a block of luxury flats, but seems pointless if the pub isn't actually going to be functioning.

  • Anna  Dickson

    Interesting to hear that someone has finally said 'no' to estate agents. Although if the premises isn't in use then the decision does seems a tad silly. The last thing we need is more empty buildings.

  • Katie  Hopkin

    Having a derelict building in Westminster would never be a good idea. The premises might as well be used even if it is yet another estate agent!

  • Karl Knipe

    I also thought it was quite an innovative move by Champions Estates, but I can see why it didn't go down well. Whether we like it or not, estate agents don't have the best reputation in the world, and people seem resistant to too many branches operating in a certain area.

    We have to be careful not to over-saturate the market. At the same time, if a perfectly usable building is left entirely empty, is that really the best use of stock we are desperately short of anyway?


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