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Planners block flats bid at Admiral Mann pub

Campaigners believe changes would pave the way for the rest of the pub to be converted

21 June, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

The Admiral Mann before it closed

PLANNING chiefs have rejected a new bid to turn part of a Kentish Town pub into flats in a knife-edge vote which divided councillors.

In the latest clash in a three-year battle between pub campaigners calling for the Admiral Mann to be protected and its owner, Woodham Properties, councillors voted 6-5 on Thursday night against the overhaul at the bar in Hargrave Place. The Town Hall’s planning committee had been asked to reach a verdict on a proposal to convert part of the ground floor and upper floors into three flats.

The application included plans for rear extensions and a basement extension to include toilets and kitchen for the pub, which the company says it wants to reopen.

Richard Lewis, chairman of the Save the Admiral Mann campaign, said: “On the face of it, it was an appealing proposition but we didn’t have any faith in it.” Mr Lewis said he believed that the changes could have paved the way for more alterations in the future which would ultimately lead to the rest of the pub being converted, a claim wholly rejected by the owner.

Mr Lewis added: “I’d like to see them come back with a proposal that has manager’s accommodation included and a function room or at least a space to host lively community events as it did for over a century before.”

The pub, off Brecknock Road – once a secret haunt of Arsenal’s 1971 double winners, including Cup Final goalscorer Charlie George – was closed in 2014 despite a campaign to save it by regulars from Kentish Town and Holloway. Last year, the developer lost an appeal against Camden’s rejection of its plans to redevelop the pub and an adjacent building and build six flats. Former regulars still hope it can be reopened as it was.

During Thursday’s hearing, Keiran Rafferty, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said: “In the appeal process the inspector had specific criticisms of the scheme, and we have sought to address the criticisms. The most fundamental was the acoustic problems. We left the cottage aspect as it is, so those heritage concerns are not there. The inspector was more than satisfied with the external appearance.”

He added: “We have had conversations and we do have an identified tenant. We are happy to invest the money to have the pub reopen before we can get into the flats. The commercial risk is being taken by us.”

Mr Rafferty said the pub had been offered to the residents’ group to buy, under asset of community value terms, but no offer had come from them.

Georgia Gould spoke against the development, although councillors were divided in the final vote

Council leader Georgia Gould, in her role of ward councillor, told the committee: “I have been involved with the campaign to save Admiral Mann for the last couple of years. It’s testament to the work of the community how much this pub means to local people. It was a place that people came together, for weddings and funerals. There were darts teams and women’s football teams. I’m very concerned about this application.”

The reasons given for refusal were that the committee “was not persuaded the long-term viability of the pub would be supported by the ancillary facilities” proposed, and the compatibility of “having flats next to the pub in terms of the noise”.

If Woodham Properties appeals, a hearing is unlikely to take place before the new year.

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