A historic pub on the edge of Hampstead Heath can reopen under its original name.

The Duke of St Albans traded as a pub on the corner of Highgate Road and Swain's Lane from around 1859 until 2008, before becoming first the Carob Tree Greek restaurant and then Swains Wine Bar and Store.

Now a Camden Council licensing panel has approved owner Fruition Assets' application to change its licence so it can trade as a pub again.

Operator Grace Land Group, which is behind The Earl of Essex in Islington and The Axe in Stoke Newington, should it sign the lease, will sell alcohol from 8am to 11.30pm from Sunday to Thursday, and until 12.30am on Friday and Saturday and play only "gentle background music".

The licensing meeting today (Thursday, January 18), led by Cllr Richard Olszewski and Cllr Sylvia McNamara, heard only one objection.

John Slater, of the Swain's Lane Residents Association, said he was concerned about early alcohol sales due to the "thousands" of schoolchildren passing the pub and late opening times in the "quiet" neighbourhood.

Ham & High: The soon to be Duke of St Albans pub has an outdoor terrace where Camden Council has decreed punters can no longer smokeThe soon to be Duke of St Albans pub has an outdoor terrace where Camden Council has decreed punters can no longer smoke (Image: Google)

Nonetheless he said he welcomed having a business in the property, which has been closed since April 2023, and that the owners had accepted his suggestion to change the name from Swain's to the pub's original name.

There was overwhelming support from the Swain’s Lane Retail Forum, Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum, Highgate Society and local Green Party councillor Lorna Russell.

Dan Outram of Swain’s Lane Retail Forum, who also runs the Swain's Lane Community Facebook group, said every time the question had come up in the group over the past nine months, the overwhelming majority had asked for a "muddy boots pub".

He quoted a comment on his Facebook page by Jane Campbell, who worked at the former Duke of St Albans 50 years ago, recalling that "punters would ask for a pint of pond".

Marcus Lavell, representing Fruition, said there would be no impact on children walking to school.

He said he did not expect a high demand for people to have a drink in the morning, but that if people wanted "a glass of prosecco or a swift half before their morning constitutional" they would rather make them "a friend and a customer" than say they were not open.

Anselm Chatwin, owner and director of Grace Lands, told the meeting they operated "Sunday roast pubs", and that he lives in Tufnell Park and his own children go to school near the pub.

He said staff undergo training to check on customers and manage dispersals at the end of the night to limit noise.

Cllr Olszewski said he was "content" to approve the application, had "no concerns" about the early start for alcohol but said there should be no smoking in the building's terrace.

"It might be beneficial if we were not to allow any smoking in that (terraced) area particularly with properties above," said.

After the meeting, Mr Outram said: "This is a great outcome for Swain's Lane.  

"Thanks to the landlord, Fruition Properties, for being so supportive of our community's preferences.  We can't wait to see The Return of the Duke of St Albans!"