Future of Highgate pub The Winchester uncertain after deal collapses
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 October 2017
The future of an historic boozer which counted celebrities Liz Hurley and Tom Hardy as regulars is uncertain after a pub chain backed out of a deal.
In February 2016, campaigners celebrated after saving The Winchester, in Archway Road, from being carved up into flats when Haringey Council turned down a planning application made by owners, GFO Capital.
Protestors feared the company’s plan to convert the ground floor into flats was a ploy to turn the whole site into housing.
At the time celebrations were marred somewhat after pub company London Pubs Ltd backed out of running the drinking hole.
In 2015 Christopher Riley, chairman of The Miltons Residents Association launched a petition to save the pub signed by 600 people and to get the bar area listed as an asset of community value (ACV).
In June this year Haringey granted Remarkable Pubs (RP) a licence to trade at the pub.
But on Thursday it emerged RP pulled out of a deal to take on the 130 year-old venue.
RP managing director Elton Mouna said: “I must say the vendors are as keen as we are to develop this asset of community value into a thriving pub.
“Sometimes though a few factors contrive together meaning a sale doesn’t quite get across the line and unfortunately this is what happened.”
Mr Mouna declined to comment when asked what the factors were.
But the pub’s supporters suspect the developer, registered in the British Virgin Islands in October 2013, pulled the plug on the deal at the last minute in order to tell the council no pub operator could make it work.
Resident Simon Lawrence said: “I’m a bit suspicious. Is the owner serious about finding a pub operator? Or will they go back to the council saying they can’t get one and apply to turn it into a flat? That’s my worry.”
Liz Morris, Lib Dem councillor for Highgate, said: “It’s extremely worrying that the deal has fallen through, although I can’t say I am surprised as the negotiations have taken such a long time.”
Haringey’s building control department told Cllr Morris the developer has yet to get the building work signed off.
She said: “I seriously question what the developer’s agenda is. I fear it is not a positive one.”
GFO Capital bought the pub for £2million after it closed in 2014 when landlords Pat and Val Collins retired. The company was unavailable for comment.