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.’