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New owner of Primrose Hill pub The Albert promises to ‘look after community’ by keeping pub open

Campaigners outside The Albert Pub, Primrose Hill protesting against the pub's sale. Picture: Mark Hakansson. Campaigners outside The Albert Pub, Primrose Hill protesting against the pub's sale. Picture: Mark Hakansson.

Friday, June 20, 2014
12:30 PM

A businessman behind plans to redevelop a much-loved Primrose Hill pub has promised he will “look after the community” by ensuring the pub remains open and improves in the future.

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More than 300 residents, including TV stars Matthew Wright and Dermot O’Leary, have signed a petition calling for The Albert pub, in Princess Road, to be saved from closure.

It follows an application to Camden Council from Springcroft Constructions, which recently bought the freehold of the building, to build three flats above the pub.

Residents believe the application will be the first of many which will eventually result in the pub’s closure and a conversion of the entire building into homes.

But the businessman behind the application, who did not wish to be named, told the Ham&High: “I’m not coming as a robust property shark. I’m trying to look after the community, to better what they have because it’s not working at the moment.

“If we want to keep the pub open, we have to do something about it. It is not viable as it is. We own pubs, we are not developers. We sell beer and we make a lot of money from it.”

The businessman, who belongs to a “group” which owns numerous pubs across north London and is believed to be linked to the acquisition of Hampstead’s Old White Bear pub, plans to build three flats above the pub to boost income from private tenants.

This week, campaigners in Hampstead celebrated a decision from Camden Council to issue a permanent Article 4 Direction in relation to the Old White Bear, in Well Road, requiring a developer to submit a planning application for any change of use.

It is understood The Albert’s current landlord will move out within a year, at which point Springcroft Constructions will look to install a new landlord as quickly as possible.

There are also future plans for a basement extension – to house extra toilets, a kitchen and possibly a function room – and a “two-bed cottage” in the pub’s garden, which the new owner claims is currently under-used.

Primrose Hill resident and campaigner Phil Cowan, who set up the petition, does not believe the pub’s new owner has plans to keep the Victorian pub open.

He said: “What he’s planning is to submit a series of incremental planning applications which make the pub financially unviable and then he can ask for a change of use and the council has a legal obligation to approve it.

“It’s one of Primrose Hill’s most popular pubs. More than that, it’s a community pub. It’s used by community groups, by sports people, even the church nearby uses it on Sundays.

“If The Albert goes then Primrose Hill would be looking like a dormitory town, where there is nowhere for people to gather and have fun.”

To sign Mr Cowan’s petition, visit change.org/petitions/save-the-albert-pub-petition-here

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