London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged to investigate closure of Carpenters Arms
Campaigner says closure feels 'particularly disgusting because it was a genuinely flourishing local boozer'
17 November, 2016 — By Tom Foot
Elisabeth Bond and Jacqueline Pursey outside the boarded-up Carpenter’s Arms in Frederick Street
DEVASTATED punters at a boarded-up King’s Cross pub are calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to investigate its closure as part of an inquiry into overseas property developers.
Elisabeth Bond and Jacqueline Pursey are among former customers who want to see the Carpenter’s Arms in Frederick Street reopened just as it was and say its closure has “ripped the heart out of the community”.
Isle of Man-based Mendoza are redeveloping the building to create new flats upstairs, although the future of what will operate on the ground floor is unclear, with former regulars worried that a wine bar will replace what was a traditional local pub.
Ms Bond said: “As closing pubs goes, the case of the Carpenter’s feels particularly disgusting because it was a genuinely flourishing local boozer. Sadiq Khan said this week that promoting social integration is a matter for everyone, for every citizen of our cities. That’s exactly what the Carpenter’s was promoting – and now no more.”
Details of the Carpenter’s Arms case – the pub was supposed to be protected by being listed as an Asset Of Community Value (ACV) by Camden Council – have been sent to Mr Khan who, after his election as Mayor in May, pledged to investigate a trend across London for overseas developers to buy up buildings and turn them into expensive modern flats.
Mendoza has not responded to the New Journal’s requests for a comment, but in documents provided to the Town Hall the company’s planning agent said they wanted to transform “the Carps” – as the pub is known locally – into three flats with a modernised bar downstairs to reflect the “new affluence” of King’s Cross.
On Friday, Ms Bond and Ms Pursey were outraged to find estate agents showing off the new flats upstairs to one interested party – offering £6,000 a month for a three-bedroom flat and two studios.
The New Journal also took a look around the flats, one of which was for 20 years the home of long-serving landlord Dave Wheeler, who is now registered homeless.
Mr Wheeler said the campaigning customers would “not let go of this in a hurry”, and warned the suggested levels of rent for flats in the building were beyond most people’s means
In a statement, Mr Khan said: “We welcome investment from around the world in building new homes, including those for first-time buyers. At the same time, as more and more Londoners struggle to get on the property ladder, there are real concerns about the prospect of a surge in the number of homes being bought by overseas investors.”
Former EastEnders actress Sheila Hancock grew up in the pub as a child, often recalling how her father ran the bar and played the piano downstairs.
In their planning application submitted to Camden Council, Mendoza said: “The Carpenter’s Arms, with its extensive ancillary upper floors, large areas of which are unused, represents a mix which no longer reflects today’s needs.
“On the contrary, many public houses function successfully on the ground and basement only with a small kitchen, with the upper floors converted to provide much-needed independent residential accommodation or offices.”
The Mayor’s spokesman said: “The inquiry is happening and there will be more info on that in due course. There will be a point of call to communicate details to when the inquiry team is together. All info will be communicated and on our website shortly.”