A three-year campaign to save a popular east London pub paid off ten years ago this week.
Campaigners fighting to keep a much-loved pub open are celebrating after a company secured a 20-year lease on the building.
The Heathcote Arms in Grove Green Road, Leytonstone has been closed since last February raising concerns among regulars about the future of the watering hole.
Electric Star Pubs has announced plans to refurbish the locally listed building and re-open it for business “the end of October”.
It comes after three years of “hard campaigning” by neighbours that saw over 1,000 people sign a petition calling for the popular drinking spot to be saved.
Emma Griffiths felt compelled to lead the campaign due to the history her family has in the pub.
The locally listed building became the first pub to be named as an ‘asset of community value’ in 2015.
“Four generations of my family have drank in the pub including my grandfather who lived nearby in Oakdale Road,” she said.
“It is a hub for our community where people meet their neighbours and build relationships.
“Everyone came together and the council have been amazing in supporting us and coming to meetings.
“It has not at all been an easy road. It has been a path of perseverance. We carried on and we never let it go until we got our pub back.
“It is fantastic for everyone involved.”
Singer-songwriter Damon Albarn who grew up in Fillebrook Road, Leytonstone and comedian Alan Davies lent their support to the campaign.
The uncertainty for drinkers started in 2014 when the pub, which was leased by Stonegate, shut its doors.
Soon after, the locally listed building was bought by Equity Estates and it changed hands again in February 2015 when Leytonstone businessman Jason Verdi took it over.
It will be the second project in the area for Electric Star Pubs after it relaunched the King Harold pub in Leyton High Road last summer as the Leyton Star.
Company owner Rob Star said he is “excited” about the plans for the Heathcote Arms, which include a function room, a games room and upstairs accommodation.
“It’s a beautiful old building and it has got a lot of potential and it’s in a great area,” he said.
“We opened another pub in Leyton last year and it has been a great success so we are hoping to build on that.”
In 2015 Waltham Forest Council introduced a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to give added protection to pubs in the borough.
It means a developer have to prove a pub is no longer useful to the community if they want to change its use from a public house.
In October 2015 the Heathcote Arms became the borough’s first pub to be registered as an ‘asset of community value’.
This means campaigners are allowed six months to raise funds to purchase the building if it was put up for sale.
Ms Griffiths added: “The Heathcote Arms was a catalyst for the council to protect local pubs and it means lots of pubs will be saved.”