Stepney’s legendary George Tavern has won a nine-year legal battle to stop luxury flats being built next door.
Landlady Pauline Forster said she was “relieved and happy” after she won a last-ditch appeal against developers Swan Housing, who had been given the green light to build a six-flat development in the adjoining building. The plans raised fears that the pub would have to close down or lose revenue.
The Grade II-listed pub on Commercial Road has hosted the likes of Nick Cave and Plan B and is famous for being a favourite haunt for celebrities such as Kate Moss and Ian McKellen.
Having lost a previous appeal in May 2015, campaigners launched a petition that attracted high-profile support and thousands of signatures.
In April, the campaigners were granted another chance to appeal the decision in the High Court.
Ms Forster told the East End Citizen it was “quite daunting” in front of three judges and against two barristers – one for the developers and one representing the government – but said the judges “understood and saw sense”.
The court’s decision against the development last week focused on the loss of light to the upper floors of the George Tavern, which is used for photo shoots and filming.
Ms Forster said the business upstairs is “crucial” as it pays the mortgage and for the restoration of the pub.
The decision also took into account the impact that such developments have on the live music industry in London.
James Ketchell, Chief Executive of Music Heritage UK, which was a supporter of the Save the George campaign, said it was a “huge victory” for live music in London and for grassroots campaigning.
He added: “It’s now time for the developers to do the right thing, realise they should cut their losses, and scrap these inappropriate plans.”
The decision is likely to set a precedent in similar cases that affect music venues but campaigners think it is likely there will be another appeal from developers.
Barrister Annabel Graham Paul said: “This judgment shows the courts really are prepared to protect grassroots music venues in London and warns planners not to take a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Ms Forster said she was looking forward to “getting on with life” but is concerned about the possibility of the case being referred to the Supreme Court, the UK’s final court of appeal.
She added: “I have battled tirelessly over nine nine years for something I truly love and believe in. And I will continue to do so. May the light shine through and live music live on!”