Regulars fighting to save Carpenters Arms hail planning victory

Planning inspector backs Camden Council's refusal to allow changes at King's Cross pub

Thursday, 20th April 2017 — By Tom Foot

Carpenters Arms regulars protest

Campaigners outside the Carpenters Arms

CAMPAIGNERS say they have landed a “great victory” against a property developer after an appeal to transform a community pub into flats was dismissed.

Planning inspector Alastair Phillips has rejected developer Mendoza’s attempt to overturn an application to turn the Carpenters Arms in King’s Cross Road into three new homes. The 140-year-old pub shut down in October and a new lease has already been awarded to a trendy venue operator – but the inspector’s ruling means the developer will now have go back to the drawing board.

Former landlord Dave Wheeler said: “Everybody is well happy. It’s a great victory. We’re all going to get together next week and get onto Camden to work out what is our next move.”

Mr Wheeler said the planning inspector upheld all of Camden Council’s original reasons for rejecting the application. One of the Friends of Carpenters Arms, Liz Bond, said the decision was “very good news”, while Ian Shacklock, who had given evidence to the inspector hearing, in March, on behalf of the Campaign For Real Ale, said: “The appeal decision was a moral victory against an obnoxious stance but it took a lot of time and energy to simply reinforce a reasonable decision that was made by the council in the first place.”

Town Hall planning chief Councillor Phil Jones said the council aimed to protect pubs when it could be proved they also provided a “community facility”, adding: “We believe that this application would have jeopardised the future of the Carpenters Arms. I’m really pleased that the inspector has backed the council’s decision and I would like to congratulate all the local campaigners for fighting hard to protect the pub.”

The Carpenters Arms was listed as an asset of community value by Camden Council last year but after Mr Wheeler’s lease ran out he was forced to leave. The closure triggered a campaign by regulars who celebrated the pub’s traditional charm and community spirit. Mendoza also sparked a gentrification row when it said in its original planning application last year that it was hoping to tap-into a “new affluence” in King’s Cross and that having a live-in licensee with a home above the pub “represents a mix which no longer reflects today’s needs”.

Mr Wheeler, who lost his upstairs home when the pub was shut down, was doing some painting in the nearby Northumberland Arms yesterday (Wednesday). He said: “I suppose we will all have to go and live in Edinburgh – at least they’ve got decent pubs up there.”

In its planning appeal, Mendoza revealed that a newly formed company, Gin and Ignorance Ltd, had been awarded a 25-year lease to run the ground-floor bar.

Chris Hicks, in a statement to Camden Council on behalf of Mendoza, said: “A new 25-year-lease was agreed on December 23 2016 with operator Gin and Ignorance Ltd. The use is restricted to A3/A4 and thus these floors will continue in the same use class as the former Carpenters Arms.”

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