CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Leighton Arms: protesters take to the streets over conversion of pub to shop

Neighbours believe works done without permission, but developers say: 'We've done nothing wrong'

01 June, 2018 — By William McLennan

PROTESTERS brought traffic to a standstill this morning in a demonstration against the conversion of a Kentish Town pub into a shop.

Around 40 people gathered outside the former Leighton Arms waving placards that read: “Give back our pub”.

The pub is in the final stages of being turned into a Nisa convenience store. But neighbours in Torriano Avenue believe that developers did not have permission to carry out the works, which include extending the existing windows and switching pub signage for Nisa branding.

Camden Council said they are “investigating an alleged breach of planning control”.

The developers have said that they have permission for all works and have “done nothing wrong”.

Jo Siedlecka, of Leighton Road, who helped to organise the protest, said: “There is a really strong feeling in our community about this. Over the past few years we’ve seen so many pubs and community centres shut down and replaced by anonymous chains – we don’t want to lose any more.”

Soiful Allam, who runs Susan’s Mini Mart at the junction of Leighton Road, said they fear the new store will signal the end of their business.

Ms Siedlecka said: “We have plenty of small shops around  here – run by families that know our names. If Nisa opens it will hurt their business. We would all prefer to see the Leighton reopened as a pub or cafe.”

Dee Searle, who joined the protest, said: “We feel these sorts of community resources are really precious. To keep our neighbourhood going we need a diversity of resources, pubs, bars and shops. There is an independent local store down the road that I fear will be forced out by this business.”

They were joined by Mayor of Camden, Cllr Jenny Hedlam-Wells, who said that the conversion will “set a dangerous precedent to other developers”.

She added: “We need to protect our small, local businesses.”

When asked about the complaints last month, Martin Cromer, of developer Bryanston Investments, told the New Journal: “There is nothing that contravenes any planning. We have a 15-year lease out to a tenant who is a Nisa operator. Everything has gone through lawyers and everything conforms with planning. We have done nothing wrong.

“I’ve never known such aggravation. There is a militant element of the road that, come what may, they are going to do what they can to cause as much mischief as possible.”

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