Kentish Town pub planning row: Councillors slam owners for turning Leighton Arms into a Nisa

Neighbours noticed supermarket shelves being built and Nisa branding. Picture: Sam Volpe

Neighbours noticed supermarket shelves being built and Nisa branding. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

Camden councillors have slammed the owners of the site of the old Leighton Arms pub for “running roughshod” over the community.

Meanwhile angry neighbours have organised a second protest and a petition in response to the Kentish Town pub’s redevelopment into a Nisa supermarket.

Camden’s Mayor, Councillor Jenny Headlam-Wells demonstrated against the allegedly unlawful conversion last Friday. She told this newspaper: “There are several issues with this particular case, it’s not just about the pub. Then there’s the precedent that this sets – that if one developer can run roughshod over planning rules, others will follow,

“And third, that small family-run businesses in the area will be threatened.”

Councillor Danny Beales, cabinet member for investing in communities said: “I am personally very angered by the actions of the owners of this site who have, it seems, run roughshod over the community.”

Sandhya Choudhury, who runs Susan’s Mini-Mart with her husband Sofiul Alam, has also started a petition which has 181 signatures at the time of writing calling to “stop the unauthorised opening” of the Nisa.

Actor Charles Dance, who lives nearby, is among those who have signed the petition, and he has sent protesters amessage to be read out at Saturday’s protest.

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Neighbour Josephine Siedlecka told the Ham&High: “Last time went very well, but we had several people who said they would join us if they didn’t have to work, so we’ve planned to repeat things on Saturday.”

The council currently investigating the issue, but say they do not believe the developers have complied with planning rules.

Nisa’s head office declined to comment.

After initially stating that they would be waiting for the planning investigation to conclude, Martin Cramer, director of Bryanston Investments who are the property’s developers, sent The Ham&High the following statement, on the proviso that we run it in its entirety.

On behalf of Bryanston Investments, Mr Cramer said: “We are surprised by the councillors and particularly the Mayor of Camden, who appear from their actions to date, to have decided to act before the due planning process has been allowed to run its course.

“We have been further surprised that the mayor attended the march/demonstration last week, particularly as the march stopped the traffic on Brecknock Road, causing havoc and forcing cars and vans to drive on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic to avoid the protesters.

“Also that there were no stewards or police to keep control. We would like to inform the Mayor and the councillors that our building has been broken into twice and was vandalised since this latest campaign started.

For the record, both ourselves and our leaseholders are small local family run businesses, that have served our community for many decades and are, and continue to be rate payers within the London Borough of Camden.

“We believe we have acted in good faith at all times and within the law and are currently working with Camden’s planning officers to resolve the position.

“In direct response to Councillors Danny Beales statement, we feel this statement, along with other councillors statements are extremely inflammatory and unhelpful in resolving the situation. Once the proper planning process has been allowed to conclude, we look forward to addressing all the councillors allegations.”