Historic Ewell pub earmarked for housing development by council
A historic pub may have been doomed by the council when it earmarked the site for housing development last year.
The Organ and Dragon, a Thai restaurant and pub on London Road in Ewell, was closed down on July 17, sparking anger from local residents.
According to the ex-manager of the pub, which has been serving the Ewell community since the 18th Century, its owner, Punch Taverns, has sold the freehold - igniting concerns it may be turned into a nightclub, new housing or be torn down.
Punch Taverns has refused to comment on the future of the pub - but it emerged last week that it was identified as a potential site for housing by Epsom and Ewell Council in its Housing Site Allocations Paper of 2011.
A council spokesman said that, to meet Government requirements, it has to identify areas where housing development could take place and that the consultation which produced the 2011 paper had strong residents’ input that the borough’s green spaces should be protected.
The views generated by the 2011 paper are now being incorporated into emerging planning policies.
He said: "The council identified various sites in existing urban areas which would be viewed favourably if they came before planning.
"The areas were identified as there being a reasonable possibility of them being put forward for re-development during 2011 to 2026.
"The Organ and Dragon site was identified as a possible option for future housing development because the site is in a sustainable location, it is understood that the current use is not economically viable, the land could be efficiently used for housing and would be attractive to a developer, and the general area and infrastructure could accommodate a small housing development."
Ewell councillor Clive Woodbridge said residents would have to "wait and see", but acknowledged the council’s earmarking of the site may have affected the owners’ view of its potential.
He said: "The Organ and Dragon is a very historic site. It would be a great shame to locals to lose that.
"The other side of the coin is that we need housing.
"If the owner had approached the council and said it was thinking of development, then maybe that’s the reason why it was on the list.
"But, the fact the site was identified certainly could have changed the way its owner viewed the potential of that land and lead them to consider what their options are."