Bar firm’s plan to re-open Old White Bear, the Hampstead pub closed for three years
05 December, 2016 — By Ella Jessel
The Old White Bear [Pic: Ewan Munro]
IT has been gathering dust for almost three years but a plan has now been unveiled to turn a much-loved pub in the heart of Hampstead village into “a local institution” once again.
Pub firm Bramley Bars want to refurbish the 300-year-old Old White Bear in Well Road and open it up for business in 2018.
Proposals sent to the Town Hall outline a “dual use” plan to rent the upstairs floors out to Heathside Prep School while the revamp is underway to meet the school’s “urgent need” for extra classroom space.
The school would only use the space between 8am and 6pm with pupils entering through a separate entrance.
The move has delighted locals who fiercely opposed the pub’s closure and mounted a strong campaign against the proposal to turn the building into a luxury home.
Leean Young, from the Save the White Bear Campaign, said she was “keeping her fingers crossed” that it would reopen.
“Whilst we have no official confirmation of any news regarding the pub, we as the local community would be absolutely delighted for the pub to reopen”, she said.
“The campaign to save this beloved local pub proved how much of an asset it is to the community.”
Sarah Duncan, a former regular at the Old White Bear, said: “I feel very excited about it. I had a horror of the building being left to rot and perhaps being converted eventually into a home for a Russian oligarch or made into flats. There may be a way to go yet, but I will be very happy if it reopens.”
Protesters against previous plans to change the use of the building had marched through the streets – some dressed as bears – in a bid to save the pub. Actors Ricky Gervais and Peter Egan have been among those who supported the campaign.
Dan Brod, a lifelong Hampstead resident and the co-owner of Bramley Bars, which runs three pubs in the south-west of England, said he was “delighted” that he could bring the Old White Bear back to life.
He added: “Bramley Bars’ ethos is for all our pubs to offer great wine, beer, and English country food in lovely premises that are at the heart of their local communities. This is how we intend to run the Old White Bear.”
There are also plans afoot for the pub to stock its own beer named Save the Old White Bear after the campaign to get the pub reopen.
The pub was closed in February 2014 after it was sold by Punch Taverns to the offshore firm Braaid Ventures Ltd.
The new owners saw plans to turn the bar into a house rejected after the council dismissed a planning application and then gave it protected status by listing it as an Asset of Community Value.
Strictly no football, but pub will show dancing
AN operation strategy document reveals that football fans searching for TV screens showing live football will be disappointed when the refurbished Old White Bear re-opens, but customers will be invited to watch shows like Strictly Come Dancing together.