Victorian pub could be demolished for housing in Epping Green

A derelict former pub and restaurant in Essex which was built in the Victorian era could be demolished and turned into houses.

A planning application by Antella Development Ltd to demolish the “obsolete” former public house in Epping Green and build 8 new three-bed houses has been submitted to the district council this week.

Originally the Cock and Magpie, the establishment traded as The Ruen Thai Restaurant until it was forced to close in 2017, according to a statement by the former lease owner.

According to a planning statement in support of the application, the building is now vacant and in a state of disrepair.

Essex County Council has recommended it be “preserved by record” and that no demolition should take place until a programme of historic building recording has been secured.

A section of archaeological advice submitted to Epping Forest District Council says: “Cartographic evidence shows that the building proposed for demolition is the Cock and Magpie which is evident on the First Edition Ordnance Survey Map dating to 1875 as an inn.”

“There is the potential for preserved historic structural remains and features within the building despite the building’s later alterations.

“Public Houses are facing a high rate of loss through demolition and conversion in recent times and the origin, structure and evolution of the historic building should be preserved by record prior to its demolition.”

A similar application to demolish the pub for 8 houses was submitted in April 2019, but was refused in December 2020 on the ground it would be a loss of potential employment space and contribute to over-development.

According to the planning statement, an appeal was submitted in January 2021, but dismissed in August that year.

The inspector considered the harm caused by the loss of the public house as a community facility and source of employment outweigh the benefits of the proposed housing scheme.

Seeking to address these concerns, this new application argues the presence of the Travellers Friend, a nearby pub, means the village would remain supported by a community facility.

The planning statement also references a viability study, which states that the business closed when trading conditions were very good, but because it is located in a village with a small population operating both pubs is not be viable.

The property has been marketed for 12 months, in which time there was only one offer for a pub and restaurant which was unsuccessful, the statement continues.

Epping Forest District Council is likely to decide on the proposals later this year.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter