Fury at flats plan for historic Highgate pub to stars Liz Hurley and Tom Hardy
A 130-year-old pub whose regulars have included actors Liz Hurley and Tom Hardy could be carved up to make room for flats.
The Winchester in Highgate closed last year when its owners retired after 32 years of running the much-loved pub. It had provided inspiration for the fictional Winchester pub in hit zombie comedy film Shaun of the Dead.
Its new owner has now lodged plans with Haringey Council to turn the spacious back rooms into two new homes, which have already drawn ire from the community.
The proposal follows a pledge made by owner Matan Amitai last year that the pub will remain on the ground floor.
Matthew Curtis, of Claremont Road, Highgate, wrote in a formal objection to the plans: “It cannot be acceptable to further reduce the floor space of the pub... a public amenity, to hand additional profits to the developer.
“In addition, the historically important interior of the pub would be fatally compromised by these new proposals.”
In its heyday, the Archway Road pub welcomed swathes of high-profile celebrities through its doors, including Dark Knight Rises actor Mr Hardy, model Ms Hurley, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, Doc Martin star Martin Clunes and Shaun of the Dead actor Simon Pegg.
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Its previous owners Pat and Val Collins often said it was more of a community centre than a pub.
The Winchester was due to re-open shortly after Mr Amitai bought it in February last year, but works to turn the former upstairs hotel rooms into flats have delayed it. It will be run by new pub company London Pubs, which has a lease for 30 years.
Cllr Bob Hare, who represents Highgate on Haringey Council, voiced concern that the pub’s floor space is set to be halved.
He said: “It’s the only pub in that part of Archway Road. We want to see the pub continue and that’s a widely held wish. If it’s turned into a little box at the front, that’s not in the spirit of the pub in the past. Housing may make a lot of money but we need a community as well.”
Mr Amitai, who owns property consultancy firm GFO Capital, said that works to convert the upper floor into flats are nearly complete, and the pub will re-open after it has been refurbished.
He added: “GFO Capital Ltd would like to confirm that the pub is considered an essential element of its plans and looks forward to the pub trading successfully once again in the near future.”