September 23 2014 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Thursday, August 21, 2014
A disused Hampstead pub is on the verge of reopening – potentially answering the prayers of residents who formed a campaign to save it from permanent closure.
A new operator is understood to be finalising a deal to revive The Old White Bear in Well Road, which shut in February.
The relaunch is expected to be announced next week if all goes well, according Charles Cohen, associate director of leisure property consultancy CDG Leisure.
Mr Cohen said: “We have been working on this for a while.
“It’s not confirmed yet, but they’re making progress.
“As long as a few final conditions are satisfied, the final result will hopefully be that there’s a quality local pub operator running The Old White Bear as a quality local pub.”
The historic watering hole – which dates back to the 18th century – closed six months ago after being bought by developer Braaid Ventures Ltd.
The firm purchased the site for about £1.6million and originally planned to transform it into a luxury six-bedroom townhouse.
But residents launched a campaign to the save the pub – winning the backing of celebrities including comic Ricky Gervais, actors Peter Egan and Dominic Cooper and presenter Caroline Flack – and the plans were eventually blocked by Camden Council.
The council then invoked a special power known as an “article four direction” to make it more difficult to turn it into a restaurant or housing at a later date.
The Old White Bear was also listed as an “asset of community value”, but despite the determined efforts of councillors and campaigners, the uncertainty over its future has persisted.
Former Hampstead Town councillor Chris Knight, who was involved in the campaign, said: “It’s a very much-missed establishment and it would be brilliant to have it back in all its former glory.”