The former Castle pub in Kentish Town, which a planning inspector had 'heritage interest'
Published: 8 May, 2014
EXCLUSIVE By DAN CARRIER
CONSERVATIONISTS were celebrating victory today (Thursday) in the battle to save one of Kentish Town's oldest pubs from demolition.
The former Castle Pub, on the corner of Castle Road and Kentish Town Road, was the subject of a planning appeal last month over whether its new owners, the property management firm Ringley, could press ahead with plans to demolish the Victorian building and replace it with a new, five storey block offering homes and offices.
Whitehall planning inspector Tim Wood dismissed their appeal against a council decision not to grant planning consent for the project.
Previously, Ringley had appealed against a council demand calling for them to make good damage done to the 1848 building. They are now legally obliged to repair the pub – including putting back ornate plaster designs and motifs on the outside of the building that had been hacked off by builders – and put the roof back on.
Mr Wood said the key issues in his ruling focussed on how a new building would effect the area's character, the loss of the pub, how the development would affect neighbours and whether the owners' obligations under planning law were appropriate.
Mr Wood said: “From the information and photographs available I can see that, until recently, the building formed an attractive feature in the townscape. It is an Victorian building in the Italianate style with decorative plaster mouldings and a pleasant composition and it enhanced the corner location.”
The Town Hall had issued an Article Four Direction on to stop the building's demolition, and it has also been included on a 'local list' of heritage assets.
Mr Wood added the pub was “...in its repaired state... a local landmark. It had an attractive design and is of some age.”
He added: “Having taken account the evidence and the attractive design and age of the building, I consider it has a degree of heritage interest. In the context of the proposal for the replacement building which I consider to be unacceptable, there is insufficient merit to outweigh the albeit modest heritage interest in the existing building.”
Kentish Town historian Gillian Tindall, who wrote the best seller The Fields Beneath covering 1,000 years of NW5 history, gave evidence at the hearing last month. She said: “It is great news. It should never have gone to appeal in the first place but it is good to see our cumbersome democracy work. It is now extremely important that Ringleys are made to act on the findings of the inspector. Now they have lost this appeal, they need to put the building back to how it was.”
Her views were echoed by Town Hall environment chief, Labour councillor Phil Jones. He told the New Journal: “I am delighted that the council has won this legal battle and the awful block of flats planned to replace this historic Victorian pub will not be built. “Throughout this process, Ringleys has treated the community and the council’s planning policies with contempt. They should now comply with the rulings and return this building back to its former condition. “Hopefully this will send a message to other developers that you can’t expect to rip the roof off a landmark without permission and expect the council and residents just to go along with it. This old pub is a heritage asset that we expect soon to confirm as part of the council’s ‘local list’. I look forward to seeing the damage repaired.”
Ringley bought the pub nearly two years ago. It had been closed after a being run in various guises: after being called The Castle, it became The Verge in the 1990s before enjoying success as a live music venue The Flowerpot. The pub was also once known as The Bullet Bar and Heroes.
Ringley's managing director Maryanne Bowring was unavailable for comment today (Thursday) but has previously stated the building was in a poor state of repair and had already suffered from wear and tear. She also stated her firm had a strong track record in looking after their current, Victorian offices opposite and had explored ways of using the current building, but found it inappropriate for their needs. She also added the scheme, if passed, would provide much-needed new jobs and homes in Kentish Town.