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The Steeles saved from ‘act of cultural vandalism’ after town hall rejects flats bid

PUBLISHED: 15:11 07 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:11 07 November 2014

The Sir Richard Steele pub, in Steeles Village

The Sir Richard Steele pub, in Steeles Village

Archant

The owners of a pub have been barred from transforming its upper floors into flats or a hotel.

The proposals had threatened the end of the function room at the Sir Richard Steele in Haverstock Hill – commonly known as The Steeles – but were last night rejected by councillors.

Two alternative schemes, to convert the upstairs floors into either four flats or a 10-room hotel, were blocked in almost-unanimous votes by Camden Council’s development control committee.

The proposals had been branded “an act of cultural vandalism” in a letter of objection penned by one Belsize Park resident, Steven Hall.

Comedy fans and performers were concerned for the future of the popular Monkey Business Comedy Club, which has been running every Saturday for 10 years in the first-floor room.

In another objection, Camden Town-based writer and comic James Veitch, a frequent performer at Monkey Business, wrote: “The Sir Richard Steele is a public house steeped in history, a vital meeting place for local residents, a hive of community activity and one of the few remaining authentic and beautiful pubs in an area that is increasingly losing them to flats and other financially-motivated ventures.

“If we downsize this gem of a pub – in their own words a ‘north London institution’ – we’ll have lost something truly precious.”

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