Campaigners hold out for pints over fruit juice bar

Not enough proof that building was marketed as a bar, says council

Friday, 6th August 2021 — By Sascha Lavin

The Duchest of Kent

The Duchess of Kent. Photo: @PubsSaving

A CAMPAIGN to see a traditional pub near Angel back pouring pints again has been given a boost after the Town Hall rejected an application to turn it into a juice bar.

The future of The Duchess of Kent pub in Prebend Street has been hanging in the balance since it closed two years ago.

Last month, the Tribune revealed that healthy eating chain Ginger and Mint had drawn up plans to convert the ground floor into a new branch.

But campaigners fighting against the loss of London’s pubs said more needed to be done to try and maintain its original use.

Joanne Scott, the pub protection officer from the Campaign for Real Ale’s north London branch said: “We are pleased with Islington Council’s decision to refuse the application to convert The Duchess of Kent pub to a juice bar.”

She added: “The developers haven’t provided any detailed evidence to the council that the pub has been marketed.

“The sign displayed in the window shows the site is being marketed as a ‘showroom, office, restaurant’, rather than as a public house.”

Islington Council’s protection policy says that there must be two years of proof that every effort has been made to keep pubs in use before they can be converted into something else.

Ward councillor Martin Klute said: “It wasn’t marketed properly. They needed to prove beyond doubt that it couldn’t be let to a pub operator.

“It’s too easy for someone to say, ‘oh well we couldn’t let it,’ and it’s their word against yours. That’s why we introduced this policy.”

Cllr Martin Klute

Islington’s planning files suggest the upstairs floors have been converted into new hotel apartments.

OYO Hotels have now applied for “retro­spective” planning consent for the switch.

The building’s owners asked a planning consultant to provide information on attempts to let the building.

And in a letter to planners, Roy Hayim, from 3H Property Consultants, said nobody has come forward to use the building as a pub.

“The property has been well circulated and advertised in the national press and forwarded to most commercial agents around central London and in Islington to encourage interest for either a company or private individual to occupy the premises and to renovate the public house for future use,” he said.

“Our efforts for over two years have produced many enquiries but not for use as a public house.

“Interest has been expressed from Londis to establish a convenience store to service the residents on this estate. Enquiries on these lines have been received from many interested parties and ongoing, for gymnasiums, juice bars, up market coffee shops etc.”

But Islington said it wanted more proof that there had been a continuous attempt to find a new pub operator.

In his report recommending that the Town Hall refused to grant permission for the new juice bar, council officer Richard Smith said “no evidence” had been provided to show that it had been marketed in this way, while a retail listing had not provided “any specific information or evidence”.

He added that the idea of a juice bar in the area would be considered acceptable and would provide a healthy retail service for the local residents.

But he said that “this does not override the council’s concern regarding the loss of the public house”.

The refusal notice was then signed on July 27.

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