Croydon Council has been accused of failing to act to stop a developer illegally turning a pub into flats, despite visiting the site eight times.

The council turned down two applications to convert The Ship in South Norwood into flats and it has been registered as an asset of community value.

Despite this the developer has gone ahead with the conversion and it is feared retrospective planning permission could be granted for the flats, as the council has failed to take enforcement action so far.

Rachel Lawrence, from the Save the Ship SE25 group, said: “There’s something not right going on.

“There needs to be some consideration about how they are making their decisions because they are very laidback about what’s going on with developers.

“The developer has completely ignored officers and the councillors and he has put two fingers up to everyone.”

Visits by the council’s enforcement team have included the builder being given a business card and a warning that any works done without planning permission are done at the owner’s own risk.

Ms Lawrence said: “We are taking legal advice. Enforcement is discretionary, but they have chosen not to enforce it.

“Our next step is to lobby our MP and to complain to the pub minister and the secretary of state because we are not happy with the decisions that Croydon is making in South Norwood.”

Ms Lawrence said the group would be happy if the building had flats on the top floor and they could then lease the rest of the premises as a pub.

The developer has put in pre-application submission to the council with a view to then putting in a revised planning application.

Details of this are not yet known, but Ms Lawrence does not believe it will involve them voluntarily removing the flats from the ground floor and cellar, where the pub used to be.

She said: “If you could open it up as a community pub it would do a lot to the area. Any profits made would go back to the area but they are working against us.

“We are going to get everyone to complain about this.

“We are going to make everybody aware that poor decisions are being made and we are going to stand up for ourselves.”

A Croydon Council spokesman said: “We are working with the developer to deal with the planning breaches at the Ship in South Norwood, as part of a revised planning application.

“As a result of our action, the unauthorised residential use of part of the front ground floor and basement has stopped and we are in discussions with the developer around a revised planning application, involving an alternative pub/restaurant use.”