A historic pub in Kilburn which survived being bombed in the second world war has been demolished by developers without permission from the council.
Residents were incredulous to learn that builders turned up and knocked down the Carlton Tavern, with all the contents — including a flat screen television, darts board and glasses — still inside.
The pub was sold to developer CLTX who submitted plans to Westminster council to turn it into a pub on the ground floor, with 10 flats over four floors. But the plans were rejected by the local authority.
Maida Vale councillor Jan Prendergast told Londonist: "“I'm horrified for the local residents that this has occurred. It came as such a shock to everyone. There was no prior warning to the council, no approvals and no proper health and safety procedures in place.
"This was a lovely pub and I'm sorry to see it go, but I'm more concerned for the residents in Maida Vale for whom they showed no consideration whatsoever. It was the last building standing in Carlton vale after the second world war bombings.
"I've lived in the area for 35 years and have never seen anything like this before. We need to take very careful legal advice as to what steps we can take."
And Cllr Tom Crockett said: "The council, my fellow councillors nor local residents had any notice of this demolition which I saw with my own eyes being conducted without any obvious safety precautions such as hoardings, barriers or formal traffic controls. All took place as children on school holidays played outside and unsuspecting traffic went past through clouds of smoke and dust.
"The demolition clearly took place under a cloak of secrecy; the locals nor the landlady knew. Televisions remained on the walls and the bar appeared fully stocked.
"We are urging officers to take the strongest action open to them. I have personally taken the time to ensure that photographic and film evidence has been collated and passed to officers for referral to the Health and Safety Executive whom I urge to consider bringing prosecutions."
A Westminster council spokesperson told Londonist: "Westminster City Council’s Planning Enforcement Team received a report that the Carlton Tavern was in the process of being demolished. A planning inspector of the planning enforcement team visited the site immediately following receipt of the report and noted at 2.30pm that the building had indeed been substantially demolished with only one side wall remaining.
“The building’s demolition required the City Council’s prior approval and as no such approval was sought or obtained, the City Council will be seeking legal advice concerning whether any future action is legally possible.
"Pubs play an important role in our local community."
A spokesperson for Historic England — formerly known as English Heritage — said: "The Carlton Tavern built in 1920-21 for Charrington & Co, probably by Frank J Potter, was an early inter-war improved public house, carefully detailed and built of good quality materials, showing the vision of a leading London brewery.
"The site was remarkably well-preserved externally and internally, it displayed the hierarchy of rooms in their fixtures, fittings and decorative treatment and retained all its external signage. We intended to recommend the site for listing at grade II, however this is not confirmation it would have been listed — the Department for Culture Media and Sport is responsible for deciding which sites are designated and at what grade."