So long, Sir Alf

    A MUCH loved community pub will close its doors tomorrow to make way for new houses.

    The Sir Alf Ramsey, named after the football player turned manager who oversaw England’s only World Cup victory to date, has been a focal point for the Broadwater and Showfields communities since it was built in the 1970s.

    Residents and patrons have reacted with disappointment over the Council’s decision to give redevelopment of the site the go ahead at a meeting on August 9.

    It came after the pub’s owners announced they would close the premises by August 31 prior to the approval being granted.

    In its place will be four three-bedroom houses, occupying two and a half floors.

    Council documents reveal numerous concerns were raised about losing the Sir Alf Ramsey, including its status as an ‘Asset of Community Value’, the numerous clubs based there and the fact it embraces ‘probably the most deprived area of the Borough’.

    Weighed against this were concerns over the financial viability of the pub and the general decline of the small commercial units adjacent to it.

    The current owner of the site did not want to relinquish the freehold and the Council were satisfied a ‘genuine attempt’ was made to market the leasehold for the premises. Legally, they cannot force the premises to continue operating as a pub, they add.

    However, opponents believe the council has acted rashly in granting approval and dispute claims the leasehold was tendered fairly.

    Resident Paul Marsden said the decision had been based on ‘inaccurate’ information, adding:  “It seems planning ignored the fact that offers, all rejected, were made to buy the business as a going concern.

    “After ‘marketing’ the pub at a ridiculously high lease rate – the applicant claimed, because nobody was interested, that meant the pub was not viable.”

    He said identical proposals put forward a couple of years ago led the Council to state it was ‘not qualified’ to determine the commercial viability of the Sir Alf Ramsey.

    “How can a report from a team that itself says it may not be qualified to comment even be considered?” Mr Marsden said, adding: “The result is one of the biggest community areas in Tunbridge Wells has lost its only public house. The council, in my opinion, should be ashamed.”