Editorial comment: Panto season arrives over whether shop was open

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: EMILY WEBBER

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: EMILY WEBBER - Credit: Archant

Pantomime season has arrived in Kentish Town.

In the battle between a Nisa in the former Leighton Arms, the council and a campaign group, it’s easy to see the farce laid through it. The panto villain in the dispute, the developer Bryanston Investments, say it has been open for nearly 18 months, (oh no it hasn’t) despite a Ham&High reporter watching them stock shelves and open up in late-May (oh yes it did).

Perhaps it’s a brave attempt to introduce post-structural thinking into planning regulations. After all, this is a stone’s throw away from the former intellectual hubub of Hampstead.

Perhaps we should be considering when is a shop, not a shop? When does open mean open? Is time real? Is this real life or is this just fantasy?

Meanwhile, back in the linear construct we call reality, fans of the former pub in Brecknock Road are lamenting the loss of their former watering-hole. Camden has rightly slapped an enforcement order on the developer, telling them to unstock the Nisa’s shelves, and revert it back to a pub, as it didn’t have permission for the works.

To the casual observer it looks like a company trying to run roughshod over the community in Kentish Town.

Councils have to be robust in situations like this, otherwise it gives developers wanton permission to carry out work, cross their fingers, and eventually get the green light.

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If Camden’s planning department finds that the work was carried out without permission, then it must ensure it is restored - and not cave in and give retrospective planning permission.

Pubs pull on the emotional heartstrings like few other buildings. However change is sometimes needed. But that change should be done bringing locals with them, by the book, without trying to hoodwink the council into a situation many simply don’t want.