A “shoddy” deal to sell off a council-owned pub and turn it into flats could be reignited after a property developer launched an appeal to have its planning application reconsidered.

Reef Estates has appealed to the Government to overturn a decision by Merton Council’s planning committee to reject their application to build flats and shops on the site of the Morden Tavern in Central Road, Morden.

In January, Merton’s planning committee, made up elected councillors, rejected the plan, which was integral to a deal made between council officers and the developer to sell the site for a rumoured £1m.

The St Helier pub group (formerly the Campaign for Morden Tavern) said it would be working “day and night” to convince the planning inspectorate to not uphold the appeal.

A spokesman for the group said: “We are aware the planning department favours the development, but planning officials are forgetting that they are there to serve elected councillors and the people of Morden.

“The Morden Tavern affair has uncovered numerous examples of shoddy practice by the borough's planning department, as confirmed by the Audit Commission and Local Government Ombudsmen, and this is yet another example.”

No further investigations were launched into how council officers decided to market the pub, which is currently leased by the developer at a peppercorn rent after they acquired the leasehold in 2010.

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