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Leighton Arms planning inquiry: Verdict awaited over pub's conversion into a Nisa

PUBLISHED: 12:28 18 October 2019

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

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Camden Council claimed evidence a Nisa shop was running from the old Leighton Arms pub in August 2017 was "implausible" as an inquiry into its conversion finished this week.

Tabrez Hussain who runs the Nisa on Brecknock Road with the store's manager Raymond Liu. Picture: Sam VolpeTabrez Hussain who runs the Nisa on Brecknock Road with the store's manager Raymond Liu. Picture: Sam Volpe

But David Forsdick QC, barrister for developer Bryanston, which has challenged an enforcement notice and says it has abided by the law, said: "If you were standing there on August 8, 2017, you would have seen a shop. The fact it didn't trade for long after August 8 is neither here nor there."

The developer's case rests on permitted development (PD) rights having been activated and then Nisa having opened in time to validate them - within a year of a letter of notification being sent to Camden Council.

The lawyers argued about whether Bryanston had followed the correct procedure.

For the council, Mark Beard, told the inquiry simply sending a letter to the town hall wasn't sufficient. He said: "We submit the letter posted by the the appellant's then-solicitor in 2016 did not satisfy the requirements and in any event the development was not, we say, carried out within 12 months of the notification."

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He also commented that, in the council's opinion: "The evidence which the appellant relies on is self-serving and disputed by local residents."

But David Forsdick QC for Bryanston said it was "nonsense" for the council to suggest an external party was responsible for a letter failing to reach the correct member of staff.

He said: "[Mr Beard] seems to suggest that somehow even though it's been received at the correct address, the onus is on the appellant to make sure that the internal mail system of Camden Council works.

"That's clearly wrong, and legal nonsense."

Mr Forsdick also emphasised the Leighton's last landlord had "done all she could" to make the pub a success, and said: "The same people who protest that public houses should survive are the people who do not use them."

Nisa's owners claim to have opened in August 2017, but the council has always disputed this.

Mr Beard said: "None of the documents relied upon prove the use commenced as alleged." He also suggested the developer and its tenants should have made more effort to document its apparent opening.

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