An historic Victorian pub has been revamped into a block of flats in Romford.

A planning application to transform The Oak (also known as the Havering Oak or the Old Oak) in South Street into nine flats was submitted in 2018.

The proposal, by family-owned Gleeson Build & Develop, was approved in March 2019 but the development was delayed partly due to Covid.

The pub had reportedly “failed several times and rebranded” but was still “unable to remain solvent”, the 2018 application said.

A previous plan in 2017 to demolish the building, constructed in 1867. was rejected. But the developer sent a second proposal to “reuse and extend” the existing building instead of bulldozing it.

The developers have now announced that construction work on the new Milbank Court is complete, and the flats are on sale on the market.

Romford Recorder: The new Milbank Court on South street consists of nine flats The new Milbank Court on South street consists of nine flats (Image: Denis Gleeson)

Denis Gleeson, commercial director of Gleeson Build & Develop, told the Recorder that the development was “part refurbishment” and “part new build” with some flats within the existing pub and others within new elements.

Read More: Demolition begins at former Havering College campus, Harold Hill

He added: “You can almost walk through a flat and go from the old pub into a new build unit.

“The key with the planning was to maintain the façade of the pub as it's quite an attractive building. So, it’s a traditional build that benefits from some new technologies really”.

He attributed the delays to a “stopping up” approval they needed that took them some time to resolve due to Covid.

The pandemic had stalled another project in Leyton as they faced material and labour shortages. That, he said, also had a knock-on effect on this construction.

Romford Recorder: The interiors of a flat in Milbank CourtThe interiors of a flat in Milbank Court (Image: Denis Gleeson)

The nature of the work involved too made the development more time-consuming, according to Mr Gleeson.

He added: “With a scheme like Havering Oak, it is building against an existing structure. So, it's not like just putting up a lot of flats.

“It needs some care and attention, and we didn’t want to rush it. We have taken our time and we have got it right."

Removing the existing paint work to unveil the glazed bricks underneath took a lot of man hours, he said.

Having lived in Romford for more than five years himself, Mr Gleeson wanted to make sure that "it’s the right type of development” for the town.

He added: “What we didn’t want to be doing is flooding Romford with quite unattractive high-rise buildings. I think we need to be quite sympathetic to what’s there already and look to enhance it.”

The flats are now up for sale and sit in RM1, a postcode that was among the 10 “hottest” property selling markets in the capital according to research.

But the rise in interest rates has “made things difficult” in the property market, Mr Gleeson said.

He added: “It's really no picnic out there at the moment, but we hope to find people who can really enjoy these flats we have built."

Councillor Jane Keane, of St Albans ward, visited Milbank Court and said she loved the “appropriate and sensitive treatment” of this “much-loved landmark pub” by a local developer.

She added: “Local developers make a great contribution to achieving our housing targets and the enhancement of Havering’s unique and pleasant built environment.”