A campaign has been launched to save the Birkbeck Tavern pub in Leytonstone from being turned into flats
Regulars and staff with Jess Dickenson (right) who has started an online petition to save the The Birkbeck Tavern.
A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a popular pub from being turned into flats.
The Birkbeck Tavern, in Langthorne Road, Leytonstone, is currently on sale for £575,000 after owner Sarumdale Ltd went into administration in June.
The pub has been growing in popularity in recent years, helped by its reinvention as a music venue, but staff say most potential buyers who have visited the building are property developers.
Resident Jess Dickenson, 33, who lives a few doors down from the pub, has now launched an online petition calling on Waltham Forest Council to reject any future planning applications to turn the site into flats.
It has been signed by more than 450 people so far.
She said: “It’s a brilliant pub, a beautiful building and an important part of the community.
“A lot of people are very unhappy about it. Not only is it used by local residents and families but it’s one of the main pubs for Leyton Orient FC supporters and it’s a thriving music venue.
“I realise it may be a long-shot but we have to try and do something.”
Ms Dickenson said she was inspired by a similar campaign to save The Lord Clyde pub in Deptford.
The council there and the government’s planning inspectorate both rejected an application to turn the venue into flats after a vocal neighbourhood campaign.
Stephen Ferguson, co-manager of the Birkbeck and the What’s Cookin’ local music promotions group, said: “Unfortunately the majority of people who have expressed an interest in buying it are property developers, although there have been a couple of publicans too.
“At a time when so many pubs are closing down it would be a terrible loss if the Birkbeck closed.
“We took on the pub about a year ago and it’s been going very well.
“It’s important as a music venue and we’ve developed a reputation for its real ale that’s been mentioned in the Good Beer Guide.
“We were looking to develop things further and have stuff like live theatre but we don’t know what’s going to happen now.”
Sarumdale Ltd, a small pub chain, says it hit financial difficulties after it took out an interest rate “swap” alongside a loan with Barclays.
The bank denies Sarumdale’s claims that it effectively forced the firm into signing up to the policy.
Visit www.change.org/petitions/waltham-forest-council-save-the-birkbeck-tavern to view the petition.