Hampstead community will kick up fuss ‘if any dustbin is moved’, claims developer closing The Old White Bear pub

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of the Hampstead Shops Campaign, and Cllr Simon Marcus outside The Old Whit

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of the Hampstead Shops Campaign, and Cllr Simon Marcus outside The Old White Bear. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

There were celebrations this week after an alliance of schools and residents saw off a developer’s plans for the old nurses’ hostel in New End, Hampstead.

But there was barely time to enjoy the victory before another planning row reared its head just a stone’s throw away in Well Road.

The Old White Bear gastro pub is set to close in February after the building was bought by a developer who wants to turn it into a six-bedroom house.

Heathman understands the community is already mobilising in opposition after a change of use application was submitted on Monday.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, leader of the Hampstead Shops Campaign, said: “The community is getting teed up. It’s a community asset and a well-loved pub, and people are very upset.”

Offering his support, John Cryne, chairman of Camra North London, said the NW3 postcode has already lost 14 pubs since 1995.

“If we keep losing pubs, the danger is we’re going to end up with a mass of housing and nowhere to go,” he said.

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Restaurateur Jasper Gorst, who took over the Bear in 2010, told Heathman he made several unsuccessful attempts to buy the freehold from debt-stricken Punch Taverns.

Instead, it was sold to developer Braaid Ventures Ltd.

A representative for the new owner said the building simply wasn’t viable as a pub.

He sought to assure the community that “not one brick” of the building’s exterior will change, adding: “Everyone who says it’s a shame, they have got to be realistic because someone has to pay the bills.

“I know that if any dustbin is moved in Hampstead, there are going to be complaints.

“There are two pubs seconds away from there and, if anyone wants to run it as a restaurant, let them come to us and maybe we will do a deal with them.”