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A GROVE Park pub saved from demolition and described as the area's "beating heart" has been packing in the punters after finally reopening.

Back in 2011, the Baring Hall Hotel was due to be turned into flats and shops, prompting an outcry from locals, councillors, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Ancient Monuments Society and even TV star Stephen Fry.

A local listing for the 132-year-old Baring Road building was granted by Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock and now the boozer has thrown open its doors again thanks to pub company Antic - responsible for turning around a number of problem venues in the borough.

New manager Theresa Matzat said: "The area has been crying out for a pub and we are hoping to open the kitchen as soon as possible to apart from giving people a place to drink and be merry but also offer good seasonal food.

"It is a brilliant building and the fact that it is right opposite Grove Park station makes it a perfect location."

News Shopper: Some of the Baring Hall Hotel campaigners at the pub's opening night

Built in 1882, the former hotel is the last remaining part of the Grove Park estate and is named after the Earl of Northbrook, Lord Baring, who helped develop it.

John King from the Grove Park Community Group which, along with the Lewisham Local History Society, helped run the campaign to save it, said: "This will be the beginning of a turnaround we hope."

He said: "We're very pleased that it's finally happened and we take our hats off to Antic."

Ward councillor Cllr Suzannah Clarke helped organise a 300-signature petition to keep the pub,

Cllr Clarke said: "It's absolutely fantastic. The fact that we've got lights in there, when you come to the traffic lights, instead of it being a ghost town, suddenly there's a beating heart in the middle of Grove Park.

"Local people are very proud that they saved it."

The councillor said she hoped the venue would become a community hub and would remain family friendly in an area where regeneration is slowly taking place.

It is currently open from 4pm each day, with a new kitchen and earlier opening hours set to follow later this month.