Punters have been welcomed back inside a London pub that was rebuilt after being torn down illegally by developers wanting to create luxury flats.

Six years ago property firm CTLX was denied planning permission to turn the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale into 10 homes.

The historic building was then due to receive Grade-II listed status which would protect it from future development.

But days before this could happen staff were told to stay at home and the building’s owners sent in the bulldozers and reduced the building to rubble.

Following local outcry and a ruling by Westminster City Council, CTLX were ordered to rebuild it exactly as it had stood.

A public inquiry heard what it meant to residents and before the planning inspectorate confirmed the property firm would have to rebuild it ‘in facsimile’.

Six years on, with Covid restrictions eased, landlord Tom Rees welcomed customers inside for a drink for the first time.

Among them were some longstanding regulars of the pub who were delighted to have it back.

Mr Rees, 34, said: ‘We had a really lovely visit from Jimmy who’s one of our regulars, he’s 94, and his friend John, absolutely loving sitting in the warm.

‘He’s really happy that we’ve brought the pub back and he just loves being back here.’

The new version of the Carlton, which CTLX had hoped to replace with flats and a smaller pub, has a stronger focus on food, but still welcomes those just looking for a drink.

‘It’s been a huge effort,’ Mr Rees said.

‘It was a real shame when it got knocked down, but what we’re doing is completely different to what the pub was.

‘Hopefully we’re still serving the same needs of the community and more of the community than before.’

Regulars will see some of the same fixtures and fittings that were in the original pub and were salvaged from the rubble after the demolition.

Mr Rees said it was ‘nice to be in the thick of it again and just feel that buzz’ as pubs were allowed to open up indoors for the first time this year.

He believes the hospitality industry have been ‘scapegoated’ during the pandemic and fears any changes to the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown could harm venues once again.

The final set of restrictions are due to be lifted on June 21, but concerns over the spread of the Indian variant have led to suggestions that could yet change.

‘My concern is more that they’ll be pressurised into having to be seen to be doing something, so pushing a date back a week or two,’ Mr Rees said.

‘We are relying on the roadmap continuing as planned, because we’re not making much money as it is.’

MORE : Developer ordered to rebuild pub ‘brick by brick’ after illegal demolition

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