Unrealistic asking price blocks re-opening of iconic Black Cap, campaigners claim
Owners insist they are marketing building at market rate
04 June, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
Protests outside the Black Cap in Camden High Street when it closed in 2015
CAMPAIGNERS battling to get the iconic Black Cap pub reopened have accused its owners of setting its value too high.
The pub in Camden High Street – a landmark in the LGBT community for 60 years – was closed in 2015 by Faucet Inn and has stood empty since. It was put on the market last year with an annual rent of £300,000. But campaigners say that figure is beyond the reach of any potential landlord.
Faucet Inn insist they are asking for the going rate that was recommended by estate agents.
Chris Clark, from the Black Cap Foundation, which is campaigning to have the pub reopened as a bar and cabaret venue, told the New Journal that their research showed that somewhere between £150,000 and £200,000 would be more realistic, as there are planning constraints on the building.
He said: “If you took away the restrictions, which are there to protect it from property developers, and ran it simply as a regular pub or restaurant, our research shows it could be worth between £240,000 and £300,000 a year. If Faucet Inn won permission to turn it into a supermarket with apartments upstairs, it could be worth up to £400,000.”
But Mr Clark added: “The Cap is protected by our campaign, public opinion, and council planning law, and the council are unlikely to relax the restrictions. So that means it is not worth £300,000 a year. Faucet Inn may say no one wants to buy it because of these protections, but they are there for a good reason.”
One interested pub operator, which manages 16 pubs including an LGBT venue in Soho, told the New Journal they had been interested but were put off by the price.
They added: “We have a good take on what a pub is worth. You’d need to spend £1.5million to get it ready. A good turnover would be £200,000 a year, so you’d have to look at how long it would take to pay back your investment. You would not get the financing.”
Faucet Inn director Steve Cox told the New Journal they had received two offers at the level they wanted, although no deals had been signed.
He added: “The property is still being marketed. The rent was set at £300,000 and we have had offers from pub operators, but not specifically ones who manage LGBT venues. We want to get it open with someone who has a reasonable commercial proposal.”
Faucet Inn say they are waiting for Camden Council to clarify the type of use the building is registered for, claiming that its designation as a cabaret venue is in dispute as it has been a pub for 200 years.
Mr Cox added: “We think it is restrictive that is registered as primarily a cabaret venue. We want clarification and interested operators are waiting for that.”