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Carlton Tavern public inquiry: Credentials of expert witness called into question

PUBLISHED: 15:15 20 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:15 20 May 2016

The pub was demolished with no warning last April

The pub was demolished with no warning last April

Archant

The credentials of an expert witness involved in the development of an historic pub in Kilburn were called into question this morning.

The pub before it was demolished (Pic credit: Flickr/Ewan Munro)The pub before it was demolished (Pic credit: Flickr/Ewan Munro)

A public inquiry, which started on Tuesday, will decided whether the demolished Carlton Tavern in Carlton Vale, should be rebuilt ‘brick by brick’ as ordered by Westminster Council.

CLTX reduced the pre-war pub to rubble without permission last April.

The Israeli-owned company is appealing a rejected application to replace the pub with housing and a subsequent enforcement notice from Westminster Council to rebuild it.

Kieran Rafferty, planning consultant to CLTX, was put under the spotlight as his membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the wording of his evidence was cast into doubt during hearing.

Friends of the Carlton Tavern demonstrate outside Westminster City Hall  before a public inquiry inside  Pic credit: Polly HancockFriends of the Carlton Tavern demonstrate outside Westminster City Hall before a public inquiry inside Pic credit: Polly Hancock

In his opening statement Mr Rafferty, who is a witness for the Israeli-based company CLTX that demolished the pre-war pub last April, said: “I took no part in the decision to demolish the building and the decision was regrettable.”

However, under cross examination, Saira Kabir Sheikh, QC, acting for Westminster Council, accused Mr Rafferty’s evidence of being “misleading, unfair and a document the inspector can put no weight on.”

Ms Kabir Sheikh said: “We were informed yesterday that you are not a full member, not any member of the RTPI […] nor have you ever been one.”

Mr Rafferty said: “I joined through an ancillary thing, I know that it has lapsed.”

Whilst it is not a requirement for Mr Rafferty to be a member of the RTPI to carry out his work, Ms Sheihk added: “If you have been a member you will produce those documents, if you don’t, your evidence and credibility will be in question.”

Referring to his evidence, Ms Sheikh pointed to the “core strategy” policy Mr Rafferty quoted at length and said: “Core Strategy ceased to exist in this City in 2013. They’re non existent policies.”

She added: “It is irresponsible and incompetent of you to be quoting from policies that haven’t existed for well over two years.”

But Mr Rafferty replied: “Again this is a cut and paste error.”

Questions ensued about the suitability of the replacement building that was refused planning permission by Westminster Council to build a basement pub and ten flats on the site.

Mr Rafferty agreed that the “strength of community feeling” should be considered when the inspector makes his decision whether or not to uphold the enforcement appeal that would see the rebuilding of the pub “brick by brick”.

But added: “The strength of feeling has been the result of demolishing the building” and that “rebuilding [the pub] brick by brick will not deliver significant community benefit”.

Mr Rafferty also admitted to consulting the “biggest users of the pub” – the hockey team – but that he did not consult personally with the wider community.

The inquiry continues on Tuesday with an opportunity for Mr Rafferty to provide a membership card and number to back his credentials.

A site visit is also due to take place.

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