Earl Haig Hall: Planning application for nursery in old pub splits community

The old Earl Haig Hall on Elder Avenue. Picture: Sam Volpe

The old Earl Haig Hall on Elder Avenue. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

The future of Crouch End’s Earl Haig Hall is up in the air this week after a nursery company submitted a planning application to convert the old pub and British Legion base.

International childcare company SafariKid has a agreed a deal to take over the Elder Avenue building – which closed as a pub in January when old owners Antic Inns sold the freehold – subject to receiving planning permission to change the building’s use.

This comes after the Crouch End Forum lodged bids to have the site both locally listed and recognised as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

Speaking to this paper, the forum’s chair Mark Afford said they had yet to hear back from the council.

He added: “I think reaction will be split amongst locals. There’s nothing particularly wrong with a nursery, particularly if it’s rather that than it being empty.

“There is a groundswell upset though, not just about the loss of the pub but the loss of a community asset.”

John Cryne, the chair of the north London branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has also written to object. He said: “Previous attempts to change from community use have been rejected before and I urge that they be rejected again. The value that a pub has as a community facility is now well recognised.”

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Others were more supportive, one Elder Avenue resident has written welcoming the planned changes, which would they say be a “better use of the space” than the previous “noisy” pub and community venue.

SafariKid’s UK head of property Alex Ringer said the group was “excited by the opportunity to potentially join the local community of Crouch End”.

Alex added: “The Earl Haig has happy memories for many, and we are aware of the sadness that it has closed.

“We hope that residents can see that a nursery would be a positive addition to the local community to have in its place and we look forward to hopefully becoming a part of Crouch End life for the younger generation and their families.”

The agent – Nick Furlong – marketing the site’s lease has previously told the Ham&High that sentimentality over the pub was misplaced as “the previous operation just wasn’t viable”.