A disused Victorian pub in Romford that was vacant for years has been taken over by new owners.

The Durham Arms, in Brentwood Road, Romford, was bought by private investment company C4Chatga Ltd earlier this month.

A notice on the property prohibits entry into the site by anyone except with prior written approval from the owners.

Nazim Uddin, the company director, told the Recorder that the building had become "a hub for anti-social activities".

The pub has been shut since 2019. A blaze had broken out on the building’s top floor in May that had damaged part of a flat.

In February 2022, plans were submitted to convert the first storey into a house with multiple occupation to allow the pub to house its staff and reopen it. No decision was made by the council on the application.

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The building remains on Havering’s local heritage list due to its Victorian style architecture.

Mr Uddin said the company aims to transform it into a “dynamic space” that serves the needs of the community.

Their redevelopment plan, he added, includes establishing an office space for their shareholders, opening a restaurant/banquet hall and maintaining the residential units on the premises.

The garden will be opened to the public to create an “inclusive space for all”, he said.

As landlords, the company has rented the site to a tenant who will be operating the building in accordance with existing permitted uses.

While the plans are at an initial stage, Mr Uddin said the restaurant is set to serve grills and other food and drinks on the lines of Mediterranean cuisine.

He further said the redevelopment is expected to be completed by the end of this year and will create new jobs. The goal, he added, is to create a space where people can gather, work and celebrate.

He continued: “We want to reassure people that since we have taken over the property, there will not be any nuisance there. We will work together with the community.”

Councillor Judith Holt, of St Albans ward, said she would like to see the pub put back into the community as it had been empty for years.

She added: “But obviously we want to make sure it's all been done properly and in accordance with the council, ensuring that if planning permission is needed that does go through."

While an application has not been made for the site yet, Mr Uddin added that they are in contact with local planning officers and plans will adhere to current approved uses.

C4Chatga Ltd, is a “community led” investment company based in Bangladesh with about 60 shareholders.

While this is the first investment made by the entity, Mr Uddin said in his personal capacity he has owned many other businesses like a tourism company, an IT company with other commercial properties in his portfolio across the country and abroad.