'The pub is lost, the battle is not': Campaigners' outcry after pub torn down 'without permission'

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

The way it was: Campaigners 'livid' over pub demolition
The way it was: Campaigners 'livid' over pub demolition
A petition had been started to save a pub in Leatherhead, Surrey, but campaigners have been left outraged after it has now been torn down without planning permission.

Campaigners have expressed their anger after the Royal Oak, Kingston Road, was knocked down last month without planning permission and over the fact that no action has yet being taken by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC).

The pub was believed to date back to the late 1850s, coinciding with the arrival of the railways, and was owned for many years by the Charrington brewery.

It had been in the hands of Greene King for the past 23 years, and was sold around August this year.

As part of the petition, which so far has more than 200 signatures, campaigners wrote: "It is a fine example of a Victorian wayside inn, and has for a long time been a much-valued community live-music venue.

"That the pub may not have been especially wonderful - or indeed profitable - is of absolutely no relevance whatever to attempts to save and revitalise it.

"With the right vision and the right management, the Royal Oak absolutely can succeed as an independent free house: it deserves better, after nearly 160 years of serving the people of north Leatherhead, than to be pulled down to make way for flats. Just this week, the similar Garibaldi pub in Redhill, also in Surrey, reopened after just such a campaign as this achieved complete success! This petition is a rallying cry to the community - get behind this, let's organise a massive campaign and save our pub."

Not an 'illegal act'

On the demolition, Councillor Duncan Irvine, executive member of planning, told Get Surrey​: "An application for prior approval has to be submitted and approved by the local planning authority before a public house can be demolished.

"The application should detail how the proposed demolition work is to be carried out and any future restoration plans for the site.

"On this occasion, MVDC received no such application from the developer. The demolition work was therefore an unauthorised, but not illegal act."

Battle not over

Richard Harold, who started the petition, said although the pub was lost "the battle was not", however.

He wrote: "Demolition began last week, illegally, and despite notice to stop being given, it has continued. Mole Valley District Council refuses to take responsibility and serve enforcement".

Commenting on the demolition, Sue Ruscombe-Poole said: "Am livid about this; it was my first local pub when I moved to Leatherhead, over 30 years ago, with my late husband."

In response a Mole Valley District Council spokesman told The Morning Advertiser:​ "The planning team are considering this further and we will come back to you as soon as we are in a position to".

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