Hours after discovering Punch Taverns wanted to bulldoze the Chelsfield pub for apartments, as well as a new bar and shop, regulars started a campaign from a laptop at the end of the bar.

Over six months later, those same regulars are celebrating after a long-winded planning process resulted in the government rejecting Punch’s controversial plans.

Punch proposed a block of nine flats above a new pub, with regulars claiming a new bar would strip the community of its focal point.

Save the Chelsfield gathered more than 1,000 objections and harnessed the support of their local councillors and MP to fight the redevelopment.

More than 1,000 people backed their Facebook page, with their posts being viewed by more than 7,000.

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Bromley Council did not deal with Punch’s planning application in the usual timeframe, leading to an appeal straight to the government’s inspectorate – which rejected the scheme last week.

In response, campaign group Save the Chelsfield said: “We welcome the Planning Inspectorate decision to decline PML’s appeal.

“We thank our supporters, councillors, local MP, Campaign for Real Ale and most importantly our community.

“We call on Punch to talk to us, your customers and loyal community to find a way forward for the good of all. We welcome any open and transparent dialogue.”

In her report, inspector Katie McDonald said: “The existing public house is an important community facility and provides a wide range of activities to the residents with local groups and music bands convening on a regular basis.

“There are also no other public houses within walking distance of the site, the nearest being around 1.4km away.

“I have significant concerns regarding the compatibility of uses, and the protection of the living conditions of future residents may severely compromise the activities and operation of the future public house, such that it would not be able to provide the same facilities and opening hours as The Chelsfield.”

Punch’s managing director, Andy Spencer, said the company recognises the strength of local feeling.

He said: “Following the result of the planning application, we fully respect the decision and look forward to building the business in its current guise.

“We understand the points made by the planning inspector and recognise the local feeling toward the pub.

“In fact we welcome this show of support from the local community and feel confident that The Chelsfield will have a successful future, welcoming customers old and new.”