Planning officer backs Torriano redevelopment despite protests

PUBLISHED: 16:33 22 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 07 September 2010

By Ben McPartland A PLANNING officer has caused uproar by recommending a scheme which could spell the end of one of Kentish Town s most popular boozers. Despite 126 letters of objection and a 112-page petition, Camden Council s Hugh Miller has agreed that

By Ben McPartland

A PLANNING officer has caused uproar by recommending a scheme which could spell the end of one of Kentish Town's most popular boozers.

Despite 126 letters of objection and a 112-page petition, Camden Council's Hugh Miller has agreed that controversial plans affecting the Torriano pub should be given the green light.

Developers Spaces UK want to transform the two floors above the pub, where the current landlords live, into private flats.

They also want to put a kitchen in the pub's basement, which was only recently converted into a live music venue at great cost to Dean Guberina.

Although there are no plans for the Torriano Avenue pub itself, Mr Guberina and his hundreds of regulars are furious at Mr Miller's report.

"Everything he wrote is absolutely rubbish. It is ridiculous," said Mr Guberina. "I am absolutely devastated, the business will certainly suffer."

Mr Guberina is certain the plans will spell doom for the Torriano because it will have to close while the works are going on.

In his report, Mr Miller dismissed these fears. He said: "From discussions with the current occupiers and also comments raised in the written representations there appears to be an assumption that the proposal will cause a loss of the public house.

"It is very clear from the proposed description that this is not the case."

Mr Guberina and his family are also facing eviction onto the streets if permission is granted.

In another twist to the plot, he is also preparing to enter a legal battle with Spaces UK because the developers have refused to renew his lease, which runs out next May.

But there was some brighter news for Mr Guberina and his partner Suzi Martin after the intervention of Kentish Town Councillor Ralph Scott. The plans were all set to be passed by officers but Cllr Scott insisted there should be a public hearing of the proposals before a final decision.

He said: "The planning committee has refused applications before so I am still crossing my fingers. When we have an opportunity to discuss it properly they will see the value of protecting the pub."

A date has not yet been set for the hearing but regulars at the boozer will be drawing up their battle plans in preparation.

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