Protest group looking to strike deals with owners of empty pubs

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Large pub companies Property

The Doctor Johnson pub in Barkingside has been empty for three years
The Doctor Johnson pub in Barkingside has been empty for three years
Empty-property campaigners are looking to strike deals with pub owners to use their venues as community spaces during periods when they are not trading.

Suspenses Property Guardians (SPG), an east London-based group lobbying against derelict buildings, squatted in the Doctor Johnson in Barkingside, Essex, last month as a protest against the fact that the pub had been left empty for three years.

Now the group says it wants to strike a deal with the pub’s private owner to use the outlet as a space for the local community, on the premise that they will return the building once the owner decides to have it up and running as a pub again.

SPG founder “Gee” (who wishes to be anonymous) said he would like to arrange similar legal agreements with pub owners across the country who have derelict or unused buildings that could provide value for local communities. He said the group, which is self-funded and not-for-profit, would not pay rent but would pay for any work or refurbishments needed.

He said it would mean the building would continue serving the community, as the group can provide 24/7 security, to avoid it becoming “an eyesore or a home for junkies”, and the owner would not have to pay empty property rates.

'Corporate responsibility'

“To me, it’s a business no-brainer,” he told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​.

“I hope large pub companies will see this could be a really good way of generating publicity and fulfilling their corporate responsibility.

“We don’t want to get in anyone’s way if they’ve got active plans for a building. But instead of pubs turning into Tescos, killing the pubs and nearby shops forever, the owner could give it to a group for up to two years. They can keep the customer base and when they are in a position to reopen it as a pub it will cost them almost nothing.”

He added that he is currently continuing negotiations with the owner of the Doctor Johnson but nothing has yet been agreed.

The PMA​ was unable to contact the pub’s owner.

Related topics Property law

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