Hope for Old White Bear campaigners as plans lodged to start refurbishment and share building as pub and school

The Old White Bear had scaffolding up for months

The Old White Bear had scaffolding up for months - Credit: Archant

The huge campaign to save the Old White Bear pub finally looks set to end in victory as the new owners lodged a planning application on Thursday to start refurbishment and reopen the ground floor space as a pub in early 2018.

Campaigners dress up to save the Old White Bear in Well Road. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Campaigners dress up to save the Old White Bear in Well Road. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

To fund the extensive refurbishment they plan to let the first and second floors of the building to the neighbouring Heathside Preparatory school during the day

A planning application for dual use was submitted to Camden Council yesterday by Bramley Bars UK Ltd - whose identity has remained a mystery until now.

It proposes sharing the top floors between the pub and Hampstead Preparatory School while the vacant site’s ground floor is extensively refurbished.

It says the school would use the site between 8am and 6pm only, accessing the upper floors through a separate entrance, and in the evening the pub would have full control.

Old White Bear pub

Old White Bear pub - Credit: Archant

It explains: “This sub-let in the short and medium period will help to generate a regular income to help contribute to the refurbishment of the pub and help secure its ongoing long-term viability.”

It adds that the school “urgently require[s] additional accommodation” near to its middle school site in New End.

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As reported in the Ham&High, fears have been growing for the future of the 300-year-old pub which shut its doors in February 2014 - six months after being bought by offshore developer Braaid Ventures Ltd.

The firm purchased the site for about £1.6million and originally planned to transform it into a luxury six-bedroom townhouse.

But residents launched a campaign to the save the pub – winning the backing of celebrities including comic Ricky Gervais, actors Peter Egan and Dominic Cooper and presenter Caroline Flack – and the plans were eventually blocked by Camden Council.

The council then invoked a special power known as an “article four direction” to make it more difficult to turn it into a restaurant or housing at a later date.

The Old White Bear was also listed as an “asset of community value”, but despite the determined efforts of councillors and campaigners, the uncertainty over its future has persisted.

In August 2014 it was revealed that a new operator had stepped in with a deal to revive the pub and reopen it.

However since then scaffolding has been put up but no progress has been made with the pub lying derelict and empty and mystery has surrounded the identity of the new owners, until now.

More on the new owners, community reaction and a history of the Old White Bear in next week’s Ham&High.