Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Heathcote

Further to the demise of the Three Blackbirds, The Heathcote in Leytonstone has been sold on the quiet, and abruptly shut. Nothing seems to be known about who has bought it, but the clandestine nature of the sale is, in itself, worrying, as it suggests the last owners, Stonegate, wanted to offload it before anyone could kick up a fuss – or heaven forbid – get it listed as an 'Asset of Community Value'.

Being totally honest, I never ventured inside – if heading that way for a beer I'd usually walk a bit further and hit the Red Lion, but I'm saddened to see yet another pub close, in an area that doesn't have very many of them. By all accounts, it was ticking over fine, but was inevitably worth more as real estate for a developer than as a watering hole for local residents.

The inevitable Facebook campaign group has been started (and more power to it) but until the new owner's have revealed their hand, little can be done to formulate a strategy. It may be indeed, that the intention is to open a pub there – it just seems very, very unlikely. In the meanwhile, all there is, is rumour and speculation. The outcome I particularly dread is a Supermarket having bought it, as the bully boys of grocery retail generally seem to get their way.

I think Leyton and Leytonstone are at an interesting crossroads just now. After a period where both were quite poor (relatively), the migration of professionals further east has prompted developers to prick up their ears and start sniffing about. Inevitably however, the vultures aim for the juciest scraps of meat on the bone, and pubs are a soft target for the deep pocketed. As few of them as there are left, they are very much at risk.

So here's hoping for the Heathcote's future as a pub, which is currently looking very uncertain. If a battle to save it is required, those involved could be in for a long fight.