A former pub landlord has reportedly constructed a giant fence around his beer garden after a local brewery asked him to leave.
Tony O’Neill had leased The Plow in East Sheen, Richmond, for 10 years but brewery Fuller’s wanted the pub back in their hands since last November, reports the Mirror.
At the time they said the handover was far from “quick and smooth”.
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My London previously reported that Mr O’Neill had “stripped” the pub’s kitchen, as well as removing all furniture and fittings as he left.
He also took his team with him to take on a new pub and Fuller’s has been renovating The Plow ever since.
However, it has since emerged that while the former landlord has vacated The Plow building itself, he has now erected a fence around the beer garden.
Richmond Council say that he is obstructing a public footpath, which Mr O’Neill contests.
He declined to comment on the situation, but confirmed that boarding had been erected and that Fuller’s had no access to it.
Fuller’s reportedly cannot obtain a fire certificate for the premises as only one entrance / exit remains available to would-be customers and staff.
A source close to the pub and the former landlord, who did not wish to be named, told MyLondon the area outside of the pub that has been used as a beer garden for 15 years has now been boarded up.
The erection of the fence, made up of wooden boarding, came as a shock to local residents who told MyLondon they did not know anything about it.
A spokeswoman for Richmond Council confirmed Mr O’Neil does not own the land adjacent to the pub.
She said: “Mr O’Neill has been in dispute with Fullers Brewery, which is the freehold owner of The Plow. The freehold does not own the triangle of land immediately adjacent to the public house – there is no registered owner and this area of land is considered part of the public highway.
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“The erection of the hoardings by Mr O’Neill is in breach of planning control and obstructs the public highway. The Council has issued a planning Enforcement Notice for Mr O’Neill to remove the hoardings by April 7. If the hoardings are not removed by April 7, the Council will likely remove them in default. “
The council added Mr O’Neill disputes the fact that the boarding obstructs the public footpath. It said: “It is not lawful to obstruct the public highway, whether or not it blocks access to property.”
Government guidance states: “Where the land was previously open ground, fencing is strong evidence of factual possession, but it is neither indispensable nor conclusive.” This means a wall such as the one outside The Plow could show a squatter has occupied the land, but it also does not prove it beyond doubt – and as it is new, this could harm O’Neill’s claim.
It is understood the council are planning on forcibly removing the fence next month as a legal battle continues.