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Belsize Park's The Steeles pub: 'Death by a thousand planning applications' as Camden agrees flats development

PUBLISHED: 14:50 30 November 2017

The owner of the Sir Richard Steele pub in Belsize Park has had their bid to convert its upper floors into flats agreed by Camden Council. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

The owner of the Sir Richard Steele pub in Belsize Park has had their bid to convert its upper floors into flats agreed by Camden Council. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

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Campaigners have lost the latest round of their long battle to stop The Richard Steele pub's upper floors being turned into flats after Camden Council decided in its owner's favour.

Camden notes the pubs valuable contribution to the community but welcomes Faucet Inns proposal to keep the pub and beer garden.  Picture: POLLY HANCOCKCamden notes the pubs valuable contribution to the community but welcomes Faucet Inns proposal to keep the pub and beer garden. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

In May last year, a judge ruled the whole of the Belsize Park drinking hole should be recognised as an asset of community value (ACV) and protected from development.

But a decision over Faucet Inn’s application for change of use to the first and second floors from being classed as a pub to homes in order to push through two one-bedroom and two two-bedroom flats was issued by Camden Council last Thursday.

Camden also approved the building of a new single storey ground floor rear extension to house a new function room.

Belsize Conservative councillor Jonny Bucknell said: “It’s a tragedy. The function room should have been preserved. It needed a spruce up but it had fantastic character.

Belsize Park's Cllr Johnny Bucknell  described the ongoing battle over the pub as death by a thousand planning applications. Picture: NIGEL SUTTONBelsize Park's Cllr Johnny Bucknell described the ongoing battle over the pub as death by a thousand planning applications. Picture: NIGEL SUTTON

“This turns a function room into a basement back room losing half the space and all the character,” he added before describing the ongoing battle over the pub as ‘death by a thousand planning applications’.

“Pubs are needed now more than ever. With an increasing population there will be more demand for pubs. This is the time to start preserving them,” Cllr Bucknell added.

In its conclusion Camden notes the pub’s ‘valuable’ contribution to the community but welcomes Faucet Inn’s proposal to keep the pub and beer garden. It adds the scheme provides homes and ‘a more accessible’ function room.

A section 106 agreement includes conditions around car free housing and a highways contribution of £5,292.

“The applicants have engaged with the community and the council has received a great deal of support for the current scheme,” the report states.

The news comes after a report commissioned by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed Camden had lost nearly a quarter of its pubs over the last 15 years.

Since 2001 the borough has lost 70 pubs – with 225 left, down from 295 – with The Black Cap, the Victoria and the Prince Albert pubs calling last orders in recent years. The Mayor’s new London Plan 
sets out measures to halt the closures.

CAMRA North London branch chairman John Cryne said: “We welcome the Mayor’s initiative and are pleased to get to a stage where pubs are valued. I just hope boroughs take note and act accordingly to preserve what is left of our valuable public houses.”

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