Campaigners Toast Sale of Popular Chelsea Pub

Posted on 5 April, 2013 by Neil Bird

Campaigners who have fought to save a popular Chelsea pub from closure are toasting success this week after its future was finally secured.

Last October we reported that owner Robert Bourne had submitted a planning application to convert the Phene Arms into a luxury private home. The proposal led to locals launching a campaign to save the 160 year old public house which, they argued, contributes significantly to the character of the district.

Hugh Grant gave his support to the campaign to save the Phene Arms

The campaign attracted the high profile support of actor Hugh Grant, Musician Mark Knopfler and former England international footballer Sol Campbell. Earlier this year the application was rejected by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea on the grounds that it would cause harm to the surrounding area which includes the Cheyne Conservation Area.

Now the property has been bought by City Pub Company East finally ending the uncertainty surrounding its future. The company has vowed to retain the individuality of the Phene, which was once frequented by footballer George Best and poet Dylan Thomas, and to make it more accessible to local residents.

CEO Clive Watson told the Kensington & Chelsea Chronicle that the opportunity to buy a property like the Phene only arrives once in a generation and the company doesn’t foresee any major changes. He added that they would be retaining the current staff and listening to what local people want.

Chairman David Bruce reiterated Mr Watson’s pledge saying the company’s mantra is ‘serving the community.’

“We are dedicated to keeping the Phene an iconic and quintessentially British pub,” he said.

The news has been welcomed by Kensington & Chelsea councillor Ian Donaldson, who gave evidence to the public inquiry into the future of the property, and Dale Ingram of London CAMRA.

He said that the outcome provides hope for campaigners fighting to save pubs in similar circumstances in locations throughout the country.

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