The Queens in Edis Street closed last summer
Harry Enfield: 'If the council do not give permission for change of use to residential, the option would be to look at some other change of use.' Picture: Damien Everett
Published: 9 January, 2013
By DAN CARRIER
LOADSAMONEY comedian Harry Enfield is set to turn one of Primrose Hill’s best known pubs into a luxury, family-sized house.
Former regulars at the Queens in Edis Street say they are dismayed by the comic’s conversion plans for the property, which were filed last week at the Town Hall.
And the landlord who ran the pub for 32 years before retiring last summer has joined the chorus of opposition, warning that the neighbourhood will be losing a vital part of the community.
Mr Enfield, one of Britain’s best known comedy stars whose characters have included 1980s yobbo Loadsamoney, kebab shop owner Stavros, Wayne Slob and Kevin The Teenager, bought the watering hole last year but says plans to turn it into a restaurant have fallen through. It closed last summer with customers hoping it would soon reopen again as a pub.
Mr Enfield’s plans scotch those hopes, although in a letter to neighbours he insists the decision to turn it into a family house was not taken lightly.
“I have been a resident of Primrose Hill since 1988, my family since 1929,” said Mr Enfield. “My father was born in Eton Road, but my wife is a west Londoner and we moved there a decade ago. However, she has agreed to move back to the Hill in a few years when our children have finished at their schools. We bought the pub with the idea that we might one day live in the top floors and let the bottom floors to a friend of ours who was keen to run it as an all-day restaurant. Sadly, he has now decided he thinks it is too small to make financial sense for him to take it on.”
He added in the letter: “There are two other pubs within 50 yards, four other pubs within 150 yards and six other pubs within 300 yards, we would imagine the council might think the loss of this one not to be too great, the compensation being greater tranquility.”
Mr Enfield said: “If the council do not give permission for change of use to residential, the option would be to look at some other change of use but every other option would take time and stretch us financially. We would therefore look again to find tenants to run the Queens as an Engineer-style gastropub – a task that has so far proved to be not easy in these difficult times.”
Objectors are hoping planners will throw out the application.
Steve Collis, who has lived in Primrose Hill for 25 years, said: “Edis Street has a strong sense of community. We’ve had two street parties here in the last two years and these and many other occasions have been anchored by the Queens, be it in the guise of a pub, restaurant, escape, community centre or gossip spot.”
He added: “Since its closure there has been something of a sense of mourning, an unnerving silence and I am sure that I speak for many when I say that we long for some life on the corner.”
The building has a pub on the ground floor with a basement for storing beers and a kitchen. Upstairs there is a home which includes a separate entrance, where the publican used to live.
Its former landlord Tony Peters said the pub was a lively, going concern under his guidance.
“I became a bit of a legend and I loved it. I still live in the area and people say hi all the time when I am walking my dog,” he said. “This is a great little street with a sense of community. People know each other and everyone would like it to remain a pub. It should not be changed into a house. It plays such an important role in the area: where are people going to meet, socialise, hold their celebrations, their wakes? McDonald’s? Starbucks? It was a good pub with a good clientele, and it was successful.”
Primrose Hill Lib Dem councillor Chris Naylor said: “It is a real shame and we will all rally round to save it. We will explore if it could be run as a community pub – there are successful examples of this happening elsewhere, and if we can run a library as a community venture, then why not a popular pub? It is time for us to get together and rescue the Queens.”
Mr Enfield’s planning agent Alex Graham, who has helped draw up the plans, said: “The proposal is for the conversion of the pub floor space to residential as part of a reconfiguration of the property to provide a single family house. The large external store will be demolished to the rear to create a garden and the building extended at first floor (to the rear) and a new set-back mansard storey on the roof."