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Future of The Albert in Primrose Hill uncertain as pub goes on sale for £2m

PUBLISHED: 14:19 23 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:27 23 April 2015

The Albert pub could become community-owned

The Albert pub could become community-owned

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Drinkers in Primrose Hill are mulling over whether to try and raise money to buy their pub after its owners put it on the market £2million.

Campaigners gathered outside The Albert Pub last year  after plans were submitted to turn the upstairs into flats. Picture: Mark Hakansson.Campaigners gathered outside The Albert Pub last year after plans were submitted to turn the upstairs into flats. Picture: Mark Hakansson.

The Albert pub in Princess Road appeared for sale on leisure property specialists Fleurets this week.

Listed by Camden Council as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), the news means the community has the right to bid for the boozer. They would have six months to raise the needed cash and, if the bid is successful, it would make the pub one of the few in London co-operatively owned.

It comes as campaigns continue to be run against plans by current owners to turn part of The Albert garden into housing. A community-owned establishment could be seen as the best way to ensure it remains in its current guise as a popular pub.

Members of the Primrose Hill Community Association (PHCA), who spearheaded the ACV bid along with the Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee, met earlier in the week and were said to have discussed whether they or other community groups should buy the pub themselves.

Phil Cowan, a PHCA trustee, told the Ham&High: “It’s very early stages yet, but there was a general feeling during the meeting that the community should rise to the challenge and try to bid for the pub.

“I’m guessing the model would be similar to issuing shares, with people able to buy small or large amounts of the pub. We can then appoint a publican to do the day-to-day running of the pub on behalf of the community.

“I’ve already spoken to a number of people in the area and there are a couple of financial big-hitters from Primrose Hill interested, so there’s a definite will to do this.

“We would need to make sure we get a good price, however. The current valuation at £2million seems excessive. I’ve seen pubs with similar square footage at half that.

“We also don’t know what the motivation of the owner is in putting it on the market, especially as they have a planning application still outstanding.”

The Albert’s future has been uncertain ever since plans were submitted to turn the upstairs into three flats last year, prompting fears it was the first of many planning applications that would render the pub unviable.

The move prompted a 300-strong petition, backed by TV stars Matthew Wright and Dermot O’Leary, calling for the pub to be “saved”.

With the flats currently being developed, another planning application has been submitted to turn part of the pub’s garden into a house and to extend the conservatory.

The plans, yet to go before Camden Council’s planning committee, have again received strong objections from the community and from several Camden councillors.

The current owner of The Albert, a firm called TXL Capital Ltd, said the decision to sell-up was prompted after the council “looked like it wasn’t considering approving our application”.

Andy Frisby, a spokesman for the company, told the Ham&High: “The bid to extend the conservatory was a really key thing for us. The trading area of the pub isn’t especially large and the conservatory would have given us more opportunities during both the summer and winter.

“It’s a great pub and we have tried to support it to make it viable. So we find it very frustrating [to be in this situation].

“People’s suspicions on our motives were unfounded.

“So the pub is for sale and someone else can have a go at running it. The community are welcome to bid for it, but it’s down to TXL Capital who they wish to sell to. All bids are welcome.”

Asked why the company didn’t resubmit an application without the house and just for a conservatory, Mr Frisby said the company “was not minded to do that”.

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