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Bull and Gate: Pub’s plan for dining terrace is blocked

Brewery chain says it will appeal council's refusal to allow work on gin palace pub

22 October, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

How the pub wanted to convert a first floor roof

THE owners of one of Kentish Town’s best-known pubs have been told they will not be allowed to go ahead with plans to turn a first-floor roof into a dining terrace.

Regulars at the Grade II-listed Bull and Gate, in Kentish Town Road, had written to the Town Hall urging planners to grant building consent, as bars face tighter restrictions in the Covid-19 pandemic.

But council officials ruled that the proposals for al fresco drinks and dining would damage the look of a pub which was once one of London’s ornate gin palaces.

Brewery chain Young’s now owns the pub, which was once more famous for the music in its back room – a legendary stage for hopeful bands looking for a breakthrough. Blur, Coldplay and Nirvana all gigged there before becoming world famous.

The Bull And Gate

The pub, however, has a longer history, dating back to 1871 and is considered a landmark in the neighbourhood. Parts of its interior enjoy listed status, including its mirrors and exotically crafted pillars. Young’s, who bought it from landlord Pat Lynskey in 2013 and then controversially halted gigs as part of its makeover, had wanted the terrace to seat up to 50 people.

A number of letters were sent to the Town Hall in support of the proposal, including messages from the Campaign for Real Ale, and the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum. The Forum had praised the company for holding a consultation before applying for planning permission and said they believed the owners had taken people’s views into consideration.

It added: “If only more applicants did this, the planning system would work more efficiently and amicably.”

The Forum said fears over noise could be managed by imposing licensing restrictions on what time the new outdoor space would be closed.

Amid the wave of support, which has been published on Camden’s website, novelist Amanda Craig wrote to the council to say the pub was “much loved” and the work would make it “prettier”.

And neighbour Pat Gibson added: “I have lived two doors from the Bull and Gate for 32 years. I have no objections to the well-designed use of the outside terrace, seeing it as an enhancement to its exterior and in keeping architecturally. I would welcome a project which would bring added prosperity to Kentish Town in these difficult times and believe that Young’s will want to keep local goodwill.”

Others were less enthusiastic, however. Sandra Julien, who lives nearby, told the Town Hall: “The terrace plans are unimaginative, ignoring environmental design issues.”

She added that her household was currently disturbed by people gathering outside the pub. She said that she was “staggered” to read Young’s claim that no neighbours would be disturbed as the pub already faced a busy main road. “I believe the long-term viability of the pub does not depend on the terrace,” said Ms Julien.

Camden Council issued a refusal notice last week.

A Young’s spokesman said yesterday (Wednesday): “Young’s is disappointed with the decision, especially given all the positive support they received for the roof terrace. They will be appealing the decision.”

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