Trouble brewing? ‘Good old fashioned local’ faces demolition

Owner claims that once-thriving pub is no longer financially viable

Thursday, 14th April — By Anna Lamche

Two Brewers Proposed site- from UPP design & access statement

An artist’s impression of the new-look Two Brewers

FOR the third time in five years, the threat of bulldozers darken the horizon for a pub at the “heart” of a community.

The Two Brewers pub off Caledonian Road, which sits beside the hotly contested Roman Way “prison flats,” is again under threat of being demolished after a planning application was submitted to Islington Council with the help of Emily Benedek, formerly Islington Council’s principal planner.

Currently managed by landlady Linda Evans, the pub is owned by Steven Govier, director of Four Brewers Limited (FBL), who took over in 2012 and bought the freehold six years later.

FBL hopes to see the pub demolished and replaced with a new four-storey building, with a bar on the ground floor and four residential flats above.

Mr Govier said the Two Brewers “used to be a thriving pub,” adding: “If we were in a time machine and went back to 1990, it was one of the greatest boozers in the area.”

However, according to Mr Govier, the Two Brewers is now “not financially viable”.

The Two Brewers pub off Caledonian Road

The new residential flats above will create the income for Two Brewers pub to “keep afloat”, Mr Govier claims.

“Like every pub in the area you move with the times or sink – everything we’ve done is for the long-term future of the building,” he said.

FBL submitted plans in 2018 to demolish the building and a campaign was launched to see off the threat with a petition signed by over 300 people. The application was turned down by the council, a decision FBL is now appealing.

Jan Harfield, who organised the last campaign to save the pub, said the new application is “disappointing,” and that the pub is at the “heart” of the community.

“It’s a proper good old-fashioned local: everybody knows everybody,” she said.

The proposed design is “out of keeping with the surrounding properties,” Ms Harfield said, and is “vastly different” in terms of its style and height to the building currently standing on the site.

Pub regular Gary Jay with Jan Harfield

She said pub regulars have made “lifelong friends” and those living in a nearby sheltered accommodation block come in every day.

“We keep an eye on them, we see them every afternoon,” Ms Harfield said.

Joanne Scott, pub protection officer of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) north London branch, said: “The Two Brewers, a well-used, community-focused pub, will be a loss to the area, which attracts the local older generation and offers an important social hub.”

Ms Scott said the proposal could be a “Trojan horse scenario,” adding “there is no certainty the proposed replacement bar will ever open”.

She said: “Developers will apply for a change of use on the upper floors, and then gradually chip away at the pub’s assets so that it’s not viable – or they will keep the pub downstairs closed with a view to converting it to residential in the future. This is happening all around London.”

She said “the applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated the current public house is not and cannot be viable”.

Ms Scott pointed out London mayor Sadiq Khan’s 2021 London Plan gives added protection to pubs, recognising them as “a unique and intrinsic part of British culture”.

Ms Scott added: “This application seeks to destroy a valued community asset – Camra will support any campaign that people have to save their pub.”

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