Greenwich Council is investigating after part of the ceiling appeared to have collapsed at the White Swan pub, which is owned by property developers and has been closed for more than two years.
The council says it is looking into the issue after reports that people were seen moving into the upper floor of the pub amid fears that it could be being deliberately damaged.
While the town hall says it accepts that someone may live on site for security purposes, its inspectors were due to visit on Monday to look at the situation.
A quantity of plaster has fallen from the ceiling into the bar, which has not been used since March 2020. The pub closed just before the first lockdown, after a lengthy battle to pay the rent demanded by the Isle of Man-based property developer Mendoza, which bought the freehold from Punch Taverns for £900,000 in 2015.
The ground floor and basement of the pub have been on the market since August 2020 – albeit at £40,000/year rent. No application has been made to change the use of the upstairs floors, which were used as function rooms.
The following November planning permission was given for a house on land behind the pub, which would occupy some of the beer garden. Mendoza later told Greenwich Council that the house would be built between June and October last year, but no work has begun.
A Greenwich Council spokesperson told The Charlton Champion on Monday evening: “We received a complaint in February 2021 about the space above the pub being used for residential purposes. Following investigation at the time we established that there was a pre-existing occupied flat there but that this was lawful and helpful in deterring any unauthorised entry and occupation.
“The ground floor at that time was not occupied for residential use. The officer concluded that there was no breach of planning control and records show no enforcement cases have been opened since then.
“Planning enforcement officers were due to seek to gain access today to inspect the premises following this report.”
It is not known whether a visit took place or if council officers could gain access.
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