More than Chutzpah Behind the Bulldozers
A historic London pub has been demolished by a developer's bulldozers, without planning permission, and without warning to people in neighbouring properties or any precautions for their safety. Even the landlady was not told.
Now people are watching to see what action Westminster council takes, and demanding the company responsible are compelled to make good what they have destroyed or that the site is taken off them and used for social housing -and a new pub or social club.
"Passers by stared in amazement as two bulldozers tore into Carlton Tavern in Carlton Vale, destroying its shell and all its contents including a wide screen television, darts trophies, pictures, and a pint glass left on a table.
No safety precautions had been put in place resulting in concerns about security of nearby buildings and if the utilities had been switched off prior.
Patsy Lord, the pub’s landlady, rushed to the scene from her home in Maida Vale after she was alerted to the demolition and told she needed to move her son’s car. After opening for business on Monday and hosting an Easter quiz, she was told the pub would be closed for an ‘inventory'."
Local councillor Tom Crockett said: “Neither the council, my fellow councillors nor local residents had any notice of this demolition which I saw with my own eyes being conducted without any obvious safety precautions such as hoardings, barriers or formal traffic controls. All took place as children on school holidays played outside and unsuspecting traffic went past through clouds of smoke and dust.
(This might well have included asbestos dust - RP)
“The demolition clearly took place under a cloak of secrecy; neither the locals nor the landlady knew. Televisions remained on the walls and the bar appeared fully stocked.
“We are urging officers to take the strongest action open to them. I have personally taken the time to ensure that photographic and film evidence has been collated and passed to officers for referral to the Health and Safety Executive whom I urge to consider bringing prosecutions.”
A Westminster council spokesperson told Londonist: “Westminster City Council’s Planning Enforcement Team received a report that the Carlton Tavern was in the process of being demolished. A planning inspector of the planning enforcement team visited the site immediately following receipt of the report and noted at 2.30pm that the building had indeed been substantially demolished with only one side wall remaining
This is truly outrageous behaviour which has to be dealt with properly. "
In the past we have remarked on the mystery fires which destroyed some derelict pubs when owners were waiting for planning permission. But in this case the company neither took its time waiting nor resorted to subterfuge. It is possible one reason for its hurry was that a preservation order on the building was expected, so the bulldozers were ordered in first.
Councillor Rita Begum, Maida Vale ward for Labour, said: "It was a shock. I have never seen anything like it in my entire life. "I went past just the other day and there were people drinking inside the pub - there was no warning whatsoever.
"They were going to confirm it as a listed building on Wednesday. I think the developers found out it was going to be a listed building and that's why the destroyed it.
Planning permission was sought in June 2014 on behalf of CLTX Ltd by Kieran Rafferty, of KR Planning, who describes himself on Twitter as an "independent planning consultant helping people deal with the anchors on society".
As for the chances of even Tory Westminster council having to take tough action, this may not be easy. The company which had applied to build flats on the site is C. L. T. X., based in Tel Aviv.
As one commentator says, "The only director of C.L.T.X. Ltd is Ori Calif, born 1977 (Director ID: 915883939) Registered address and Trading Address in London is 21 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3HH. Other registered address for Calif is 8 Shaul Hamelech Blvd, Tel Aviv, Israel 64733. Any lawsuit will be an issue since the company is only worth £942 and has £1,458 Cash It has £5,917 Assets with £4,975 Liabilities. I suppose jail would suffice!!"
This has brought some wry allusions to Israeli house demolitions, and we could also refer to the use of planning regulations to order them. But more to the point, we must wonder how a company based so far away, and with such modest assets, could find its way among the big boys of the London property market and propose to build a block of flats, with apparently less cash than you would normally need to pay a deposit or raise a mortgage to buy a flat in London?
It must take chutzpah, sure, but surely also require good contacts. My guess, as a mere amateur with no business experience or proper knowledge of these matters, is that this company must have backing. And if they were tipped off that the building was about to be listed, so that they decided to send in the bulldozers right away, that sounds like they or their advisors had a useful contact in Westminster council's planning office. Only saying....
- C.L.T.X. limited - incorporated 25 March 2011. Companies House has a proposal to strike off, perhaps due the non delivery of their 31 March 2014 accounts which were due 31 December 2014. Registered office 21 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HH. One director - a Mr Ori Calif of 8 Shaul Hamelech Blvd, Tel Aviv, Israel 64733. C.L.T.X. has a subsidiary Ye Old White Bear Limited - again registered at 21 Bedford Square (this is probably their accountant's office). Ye Old White Bear was founded on 11 June 2013, no accounts or company return ever made so there is again a Companies House proposal to strike off. Our old friend Ori Calif is the sole director, but this time his address is given as 28 Kensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill W11 2QS and his occupation given as lawyer. There is a law firm called Ori Calif & Co registered at 8 Shaul Hamelech Blvd which claims a special focus on international taxation and real estate. Don't know if it is connected but there is a pub called The Old White Bear in Hampstead which was supposedly saved from being developed into a 6 bedroom house last year, but apparently has yet to re-open as a pub.- 'Wolfie Smith'