CamdenNewJournal

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Leighton Arms: Councillors in war of words with developer over pub conversion

Pub owners hit back after being accused of "running roughshod over community"

06 June, 2018 — By William McLennan

A ROW over the conversion of a pub into a corner shop intensified today as a senior councillor hit out at the developers and accused them of “running roughshod over the community”.

Cllr Danny Beales said the works at the former Leighton Arms, Kentish Town, were being investigated for an alleged breach of planning regulations.

But Martin Cramer, director of the Bryanston Investments, who own the site, denied any wrongdoing and said that Cllr Beales intervention was “extremely inflammatory and unhelpful in rolsing the situation.”

Protesters took to the streets on Friday, waving placards that read: “give us back our pub”.

They are planning a follow-up demonstration on Saturday morning and they have launched an online petition, signed by actor Charles Dance, who lives nearby.

A ROW over the conversion of a pub into a corner shop intensified today as a senior councillor hit out at the developers and accused them of “running roughshod over the community”.

Cllr Danny Beales said the works at the former Leighton Arms, Kentish Town, were being investigated for an alleged breach of planning regulations.

But Martin Cramer, director of the Bryanston Investments, who own the site, denied any wrongdoing and said that Cllr Beales intervention was “extremely inflammatory and unhelpful in rolsing the situation.”

Protesters took to the streets on Friday, waving placards that read: “give us back our pub”.

They are planning a follow-up demonstration on Saturday morning and they have launched an online petition, signed by actor Charles Dance, who lives nearby.

Jo Siedlecka, of Leighton Road, who helped to organise the protest, said: “There is a really strong feeling in our community about this. Over the past few years we’ve seen so many pubs and community centres shut down and replaced by anonymous chains – we don’t want to lose any more.”

Protesters were joined by Mayor of Camden, Cllr Jenny Hedlam-Wells, who said that the conversion will “set a dangerous precedent to other developers”.

She added: “We need to protect our small, local businesses.”

Councillor Danny Beales said in a statement: “I am personally very angered by the actions of the owners of this site who have, it seems, run roughshod over the community.”

He said the council believed they had not complied with “the relevant conditions” of permitted development, adding: “The enforcement team are considering all the available options and the case is ongoing.”

In a statement, responding to Mr Beales, company director Martin Cramer said: “We feel this statement, along with other councillors statements are extremely inflammatory and unhelpful in resolving the situation. Once the proper planning process has been allowed to conclude, we look forward to addressing all the councillors’ allegations.”

Mr Cramer said they appear “to have decided to act before the due planning process” is completed. He expressed “surprise” that the Mayor attended the demonstration, adding: “Particularly as the march stopped traffic, causing havoc and forcing vehicles to drive on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic.” He complained about the lack of stewards or police to marshal the crowd.

He said the company and their leaseholders are “small, local, family-run businesses”, paying business rates in Camden.

He added: “We believe we have acted in good faith at all times and within the law and are currently working with Camden’s planning officers.”

Jo Siedlecka, of Leighton Road, who helped to organise the protest, said: “There is a really strong feeling in our community about this. Over the past few years we’ve seen so many pubs and community centres shut down and replaced by anonymous chains – we don’t want to lose any more.”

Protesters were joined by Mayor of Camden, Cllr Jenny Hedlam-Wells, who said that the conversion will “set a dangerous precedent to other developers”.

She added: “We need to protect our small, local businesses.”

Councillor Danny Beales said in a statement: “I am personally very angered by the actions of the owners of this site who have, it seems, run roughshod over the community.”

He said the council believed they had not complied with “the relevant conditions” of permitted development, adding: “The enforcement team are considering all the available options and the case is ongoing.”

In a statement, responding to Mr Beales, company director Martin Cramer said: “We feel this statement, along with other councillors statements are extremely inflammatory and unhelpful in resolving the situation. Once the proper planning process has been allowed to conclude, we look forward to addressing all the councillors’ allegations.”

Mr Cramer said they appear “to have decided to act before the due planning process” is completed. He expressed “surprise” that the Mayor attended the demonstration, adding: “Particularly as the march stopped traffic, causing havoc and forcing vehicles to drive on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic.” He complained about the lack of stewards or police to marshal the crowd.

He said the company and their leaseholders are “small, local, family-run businesses”, paying business rates in Camden.

He added: “We believe we have acted in good faith at all times and within the law and are currently working with Camden’s planning officers.”

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