Report by Alastair Ball and James Cracknell
Leyton residents are banding together to try to save an abandoned pub.
A petition to reopen The Antelope in Church Road has been signed by more than 2,000 people, calling for it to be restored as a “fantastic social space”.
The pub holds an important place in local history, as the meeting point for the organisers of a 3,000-strong protest group dubbed ‘The Wrecking Party’ which, in 1892, successfully stopped an attempted encroachment on the common grazing land of Leyton Marshes.
Local residents Curran McKay, Michelle Connolly and Ciarán O’Shea are now campaigning to reopen The Antelope. Curran told the Echo: “We realised we’ve walked past the pub so many times, we actually said to each other ‘you know this really should be open, I can’t believe it’s not’.”
Michelle added: “We’ve had an unprecedented amount of people get in touch and genuinely want to help, and everyone said exactly what we used to say, walking past it and always wanting to go in.”
In 2015 The Antelope was listed by Waltham Forest Council as an ‘asset of community value’, which places planning restrictions on the property and gives community groups a chance to buy it if it is put up for sale. However, this temporary protection expired in June this year and part of the campaign is to get it re-listed. Michelle said they want “to make it a proper community space and not just a pub”.
Curran added: “We want to show the depth of local community support for this. There’s the skill and the will to do this and we want to put that across.”
Part of the spark for the campaign was an allegation that the current owner of the pub had converted it into a residential dwelling without planning permission. Waltham Forest Council has confirmed that it is taking enforcement action against owners Tzvi Ltd, who could not be contacted.
A council spokesperson said: “The council took enforcement action against what it identified as an unauthorised change of use at The Antelope including alterations to the pub to convert it into residential units.
“The owner appealed the council’s planning enforcement notice which required the breach of planning control to be reversed. The appeal against the notice was recently heard by the government’s planning inspectorate and a decision is expected within the next few months.”
In the meantime Michelle, Curran and Ciarán will continue building their campaign, carrying out surveys of local people to find out what kind of pub they’d like to see opened. Michelle said: “This is a really proactive community. Everyone is so friendly and supportive and just crying out for a space to interact.”
Sign the petition to save The Antelope: