Closure spells a chemist's crisis

PATIENTS have been left without their popular Swiss Cottage pharmacy after it was forced to close

Marc Mullen

PATIENTS have been left without their popular Swiss Cottage pharmacy after it was forced to close.

After a long battle to save it, Hill Pharmacy was shut at the weekend, leaving customers to go to Finchley Road for prescriptions.

The chemist has had to make way for developers, who are planning to demolish the building on Winchester Road to build a five-storey 74-flat apartment block.

When the plans were approved, the original developer, London Merchant Securities, promised to find alternative premises for the pharmacy. But Gaillard Homes, which took over the development, has reneged, claiming it was not part of any formal agreement.

Abdul Kantaria, who has run Hill Pharmacy for more than 20 years, spent the last year desperately trying to find a new site.

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He said: "We didn't want to go and have tried so hard to stay, looking at many different options. But time ran out. We are still looking at different options and hopefully we can be back in business in three to four weeks."

A deal for the pharmacy to move into the Sugar Cane grocery shop on Winchester Road fell through last month. And various options the council looked into, including installing a chemist in the Swiss Cottage Community Centre or the library, also foundered.

Mr Kantaria has set up an interim deal with another pharmacy to dispense prescriptions, which he can deliver to customer's homes if necessary.

Hampstead councillor Chris Knight said: "I can assure you that the council's property services have pulled out all the stops to help with the relocation following the unfortunate library decision."

Mr Kantaria added: "We are greatly touched by the support shown by everyone in these difficult circumstances. This has given us the strength to carry on. We look forward to seeing our loyal customers at our new premises when they are ready."

Patients can call Mr Kantaria on 020-7586 8730 or 020-7722 5221 to arrange for a prescription.