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Kentish Town cafes blame luxury flat developer for killing business

PUBLISHED: 09:59 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:41 07 September 2010

TWO Kentish Town cafe owners are blaming developers for their businesses going down the pan. After 45 years of running Continental Cafe on Highgate Road Duilio Quarrini has been forced to close his doors for good

Ben McPartland

TWO Kentish Town cafe owners are blaming developers for their businesses going down the pan.

After 45 years of running Continental Cafe on Highgate Road Duilio Quarrini has been forced to close his doors for good.

And around the corner on Fortess Road, Spring Cafe, run by Hasan Kalay and his pregnant wife Elizabeth Barrientos-Roque, has lost customers and the couple have had to move out of their home.

Both men claim their problems stem from a massive development next door, which has left their properties badly damaged.

Mr Quarrini said: "My trade went down as soon as they started building.

"They cut off the footpath so no one was walking past. I just had to close it after a while.

"I didn't want to finish now, I wanted to retire when I was ready. I am living off a state pension. I am depressed, but what can I do. I had regular customers for over 30 years and now they are all gone.

"All I have been doing over the last six months is ringing up surveyors to find out what is happening but that has just been a lot of work for nothing."

The development, which includes three penthouse apartments, has been built by Verry Construction.

Mr Quarrini says he was told his property will be repaired but he is still waiting.

Mr Kalay bought a nine-year lease on Spring Cafe 12 months ago, but just a few weeks later an enormous crack appeared down the side of the building.

He and his wife, who were living upstairs, could feel the building moving at night and eventually moved out, because they were told it was too dangerous.

And their trade has dwindled, with many customers scared to enter the cafe, fearing it may collapse.

She said: "It has been a complete nightmare. I am trying not to get too worked up about it because I'm about to have a baby. The cafe was my husband's project, he had so many high hopes to improve it. It has been a big strain on our marriage, we are both trying to be supportive to each other.

"One time I called the landlord in a state of panic at 3am in the morning because the building was shaking.

"They told us they were going to repair it six months ago, but nothing has happened. We will have no business left at all."

Independent chartered surveyor David Heasman from Salter Rex in Kentish Town is working for Spring Cafe. He described the conditions as "uncomfortable rather than dangerous."

He said: "We are discussing what remedial works are necessary. The other side have appointed a surveyor and there are discussions with engineers over the best course of remedial action. It will be repaired, certainly. The developers have an obligation to make good any damage they cause."

Verry Construction were unavailable for comment as the Ham&High went to press.

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk

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