CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Pub at centre of closure battle turned into ‘neighbourhood cocktail bar’

Carpenters Arms has a new name... The Racketeer

08 June, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Protesters outside the Carpenters Arms earlier this year

A COMMUNITY pub shut down by a property developer has reopened as a “neighbourhood cocktail bar” called The Racketeer.

The Carpenters Arms, in King’s Cross Road, closed in October last year following a bitter dispute that saw the landlord forced to leave and loyal customers lose their popular meeting place. Former regulars at the 140-year-old pub described the new atmosphere as “young, trendy and expensive” with “no place for darts, quiz nights, elderly local people”.

“The place has been completely changed,” said Elisabeth Bond. “Thankfully, the floor and the mirrors and tiles are still in place but there is no way it has anything to do with the local community any more.” She added: “The music is very loud and youth orientated, the toilets are down in the basement – no place for building workers who drop in over lunch or after work… the list goes on.”

Campaigners were cautiously celebrating in April after a planning inspector threw out a planning appeal by the site’s new owner, Mendoza. The company wanted to overturn Camden Council’s rejection of its application to build three flats above the pub. The pub was listed as an asset of community value (ACV) by Camden Council last year. Its planning department rejected the application to turn the upstairs of the building into flats.

Gin for sale at The Racketeer

Former landlord David Wheeler said the new bar showed total “disregard for the ACV”. The property upstairs was being let as residential flats in “direct defiance” of Camden’s planning department, he claimed. Council officers have said they are considering whether to take enforcement action against Mendoza after being told by the owner that it will challenge the appeal decision in the High Court.

Mendoza also sparked a gentrification row when it said in its planning application last year that it was hoping to tap into a “new affluence” in King’s Cross. Having a live-in licensee with a home above the pub “represents a mix which no longer reflects today’s needs”, the developer said.

Landowner Mendoza signed a 25-year lease with the pub’s new operator, Gin and Ignorance, in December. This week the bar’s new managers told the New Journal: “It’s quite flattering to hear that we have been described as ‘young and trendy’ as we are all in our 40s now, having begun work in the London hospitality trade many, many moons ago.”

They added: “We have tried to bring back some of the building’s unique and beautiful original features with a keen nod to its Victorian roots, having been a drinking establishment since the late 1800s. We have been really encouraged by the support shown by many locals and neighbours, both during the refurbishment and since we opened our doors on Friday. “e are looking forward to welcoming everyone to pop in to see what we have done.”

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