Page Updated:- Tuesday, 09 May, 2023.


Earliest ????

Kemsley Arms

Closed May 2013

The Square, Ridham Avenue


Kensley Arms 2010

Above photo, March 2010.

Kemsley Arms 2013

Above photo 2013.


Thanet Times, Tuesday 17 October 1989.

Also in Kent is the "Kemsley Arms," a Thorley Tavern free house near Sittingbourne. A new pub licence was obtained for the pub, previously owned by Bowaters and used as a staff Clubhouse. Following another of Franks famous "design and refits", at a cost of more than 400,000, the pub is now trading as the busiest in the area.


From 26 November 2013, by Hayley Robinson.

Swale council scheme aims to protect future of Kemsley Arms, Ridham Avenue, Kemsley, Sittingbourne.

A derelict pub has become the first building in Swale to be listed as an “asset of community value” under new legislation.

Kemsley Community Centre Trust's application for the "Kemsley Arms" was approved by Swale council last week under The Community Right to Bid scheme.

It means the Ridham Avenue property will be added to a list kept by the local authority – and should the owner decide to sell it, they must inform Swale of their intentions.

The "Kemsley Arms" in Kemsley has become the first building in Swale to be listed as an 'asset of community value.'

This information will then be passed onto the trust so they can decide if they want to be considered as a potential buyer.

While it does not give it the right of first refusal to buy, it does give members six months to develop a proposal and raise the necessary funding to submit a bid.

The move was prompted after the pub closed in May and rumours started circulating that it could be turned into flats.

Cabinet member for localism, Cllr Mike Whiting, said: “Residents have been shocked at the sight of the pub boarded up and going to rack and ruin, and wanted something done.

“I raised the legislation, which forms part of the Localism Act, with the trust who run the hall in conjunction with Swale council next to the pub, and suggested they might like to apply to get it listed.

“I am very pleased their application was approved and I hope we'll see more coming forward in the future.”

Trust secretary Mike Dendor said: “We're extremely pleased the community will now have an opportunity to find out what happens to it in advance of it being sold.

“It's a landmark. It's the first thing you see as you come up Grovehurst Avenue and has been the centre of the village since it was built in the 1920s.

“We have had a number of talks about what we might want to do with it, such as a community cafe, because it used to have a restaurant in there, so it's all set up for catering, or using it as a community centre.”

A building or land can be considered an asset of value if it's considered of great social use to the community.

Those exempt include homes, hotels, assets being transferred between businesses and Church of England land holdings.

The "Chequers" pub in Doddington is also set to be listed following a campaign by villagers.


I have just learnt that subsequently after closing in 2013 the Swale Borough Council's planning committee have given permission for the building to be turned into flats with shops below.


From the By Hayley Robinson, 7 June 2015.

The Kemsley Arms pub in Ridham Avenue is set to be transformed into flats and shops.

The former Kemsley Arms pub will be transformed into flats and shops.

Swale council’s planning committee agreed the application for the redevelopment when members met last month.

The watering hole in Ridham Avenue shut its doors to the public in May 2013.

It then operated as an Indian restaurant under the same owner until April last year.

Prior to the application being approved, Cllr Mike Baldock (Ukip) said he would have liked the conditions to demand that part of the development would remain open as a pub.

He said: “I think there is a real need for a pub in that area. You’ve got a new housing estate at the back; you’ve got a lot of people who have lived there a long time that used to use that pub.”

But Cllr Mark Ellen (Lab) disagreed, saying: “We’ve seen it across the borough, we’ve seen it across the country, pubs are closing down.

“Social entertainment is changing. People don’t go to pubs like they used to anymore. It’s a great place for flats, so I will go along with this one.”

Cllr Mike Henderson (Ind) added: “I think it’s worth applauding the fact we have 33% affordable housing in this development.”

As part of the section 106, the developer must also contribute 2,612 towards wheelie bins and pay 949.89 towards a council-standard monitoring charge to measure compliance with the agreement.

Officers were also given permission to sort out minor errors within the application.

Ward member Cllr Sue Gent (Con) said: “It’s been a long time coming but when it comes it will make it a proper little village back as it used to be.”

It is subject to an extra condition that the window sills at the back of the building are at least 1.65m above floor level so people can’t look out of them. They are purely to provide light and ventilation.

There was laughter when Cllr Andy Booth (Con) questioned the height.

“I’m not sure how many people are less than 1.65m (5ft 5in) tall,” he said.

Area planning officer Jim Wilson said: “I’m happy to be corrected by colleagues but I believe that’s the height we use. There seems to be a suggestion it might 1.7m (5ft 7in) though.”

Cllr Booth added: “We have two members who may be able to see out of that window Mr Chairman.”

Mr Wilson replied: “That’s the government standard but I’m sure people are getting taller all the time. I’m happy to investigate.”


From the By Megan Carr, 13 October 2022.

Plan to convert former Kemsley Arms into flats likely to be refused despite community support.

Plans to turn a derelict pub into flats could be refused by the council despite calls for its conversion.

The former Kemsley Arms in Sittingbourne has been closed for almost 10 years and people living in the area are desperate for the "eyesore" to be dealt with.

Kemsley Arms 2022

The derelict former Kemsley Arms pub in Sittingbourne. Picture: Megan Carr.

The council has received an application to transform the old watering hole into a mix of flexible retail space and a possible 20 apartments.

Connor Bean and his parents Rachel and Andy live opposite the old pub.

The 24-year-old said: "My mum and dad used to run the Kemsley Arms.

"The building being turned into flats instead of another pub would be better, as the pub trade is sadly dying.

"It was good back in its day but it's just an eyesore now. It's best to just get it knocked down."

Kemsley Arms 2013

The Kemsley Arms just after it closed. Picture: Andy Payton.

His 52-year-old mum, who served pints at the Kemsley Arms during the 2002 World Cup, felt the same.

Rachel said: "Flats would be better to look at.

"But like, with everything, it would depend on the type of people who moved into them.

"It has been bad living next to the pub when it looks the way it does, though.

"Perhaps instead of flats a few shops instead of takeaways would be better for the village."

Kemslay Arms planning map 2022

Where the new flats could be built. Picture: Swale Borough Council.

Another mum, Charlotte Fury, also thinks the change would do the building some good.

The 26-year-old, from Menin Road, said: "The nearby homes, including mine, have had mice problems because of this derelict building.

"The plans will be good for the community especially as there have been rumours of takeaway units being included."

One woman, who did not wished to be named, agreed.

She said: "I don't object to the plans.

"Flats would definitely be better than the derelict building we've been looking at.

"I do think though that the possible plans for takeaways would be better as more flats.

"However, parking might be a challenge.

"I've lived in the area for 20 years and I still think flats would be more beneficial than a pub.

"It would help with the cost of living crisis."
Although the proposals seem to have been welcomed by the community, planning officers have recommended councillors turn it down.

A report to the committee says: "The proposal fails to provide developer contributions to specifically identified local infrastructure.

"These include healthcare, primary education, secondary education and land, community learning, libraries, youth services, social care, waste services, bin provision and highways.

"It would give rise to unacceptable harm which would outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

"The proposal would fail to represent sustainable development and granting planning permission would create a precedent."

The planning committee is due to meet at 7pm tonight (Thursday).


From the By Megan Carr, 1 May 2023.

Flat plans at former Kemsley Arms pub ‘to be approved soon’ after complaints of squatters and drug users in derelict building.

An unsightly and derelict former pub said to attract squatters and drug users could finally be turning into flats a decade after it was closed.

The Kemsley Arms, in Kemsley near Sittingbourne, closed in May 2013 and has been labelled as an eyesore ever since by those living nearby.

Kemsley Arms 2023

The Kemsley Arms and the vandalised caravan in Ridham Avenue, Kemsley. Picture: Megan Carr.

One resident, who lives behind the notorious building and did not wish to be named, said: “Not only is the Kemsley Arms a derelict unsafe building waiting for something to go wrong, but an abandoned caravan outside the pub has also been damaged after its windows were smashed in.

“The derelict pub is no doubt full of rats and unsavoury creatures – some human at times.

“It also attracts a huge amount of unpleasant drug dealers and vandalism as well as vermin.

“Action needs to be taken as a priority to address this, Swale borough council needs to take ownership and action to sort this eyesore out once and for all.”

In October last year, it was revealed plans to turn the old watering hole into flats were likely to be refused by the council despite calls for its conversion.

However, eight months on Cllr Mike Dendor (Con), who is standing for re-election, believes the application to turn the building into a mix of flexible retail space and a possible 20-plus apartments, is close to being approved.

He said: “In the last two months, the application has been handed between three people.

“I understand people’s concerns and I believe an enforcement is in place to get rid of the vehicles and caravan on the land outside the Kemsley Arms, especially as the caravan recently had its windows smashed and became even more of an eyesore.

“I am in talks with the council to see if an enforcement order is in place to remove this.”

Kemsley Arms 2023

The Kemsley Arms in Ridham Avenue, Kemsley. Picture: Megan Carr.

Swale council has confirmed if there is an enforcement on the caravan it will be by Kent County Council as it is on highways land.

A council spokesman said: “We have been working with the applicant on this for some time, but we have had challenges with resources which has led to delays. We do expect a decision will be made in the near future.”

The Kemsley Arms, which is in Ridham Avenue, served its last pint 10 years ago this month. It then became an Indian restaurant which also closed.

The resident who lives nearby continued: “The person who has put in the application owns the pub and has tried to do something about it.

Kemsley Arms caravan 2023

The Kemsley Arms and the vandalised caravan in Ridham Avenue, Kemsley. Picture: Megan Carr.

“But because it looks the way it does the area has been used as a dump for scrap vehicles, squatters, and drug users and no-one does anything.

“Police say it's the council and then we get no answers. We’re fed up with seeing it, it’s a state.“If it were burned to the ground it would look better. It hits you when you drive up that road.

“The annoyance is that no-one has taken ownership of it.”



BLEAN ???? 2002+


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