Labour peer Lord Melvyn Bragg hits out at critics fearing ‘smelly’ Hampstead fish and chip restaurant

Villa Bianca owner Rinaldo Mollura (middle) with Lord
Melvyn Bragg and Cllr Tulip Siddiq outside th

Villa Bianca owner Rinaldo Mollura (middle) with Lord Melvyn Bragg and Cllr Tulip Siddiq outside the site for the new fish cafe. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Labour peer Lord Melvyn Bragg has criticised Camden Council and a prominent conservation society for standing in the way of plans for a new fish restaurant in Hampstead.

The renowned broadcaster and author said he was “disappointed” with opposition from the Heath and Hampstead Society and the council to plans for a fish café in Hampstead High Street.

The new eatery would be set up by Rinaldo Mollura, owner of well-known Italian restaurant Villa Bianca, in Perrin’s Court.

Lord Bragg, 74, who has lived in Hampstead for more than 40 years, said: “If they’ve got the interests of Hampstead at heart, this bewilders me. I’m very disappointed with the council and the society.

“I think very few people think this is going to be an old-fashioned fish and chip shop. It’s a smart-casual fish café run by the best restaurateur in Hampstead.

“Smart fish cafés are making a terrific comeback. We don’t have enough smart-casual restaurants.”

However, Camden Council insists it was made to wait until last month for a noise report from Mr Mollura.

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A council spokesman said that since receiving the report the council has acted quickly and is due to make a decision on the application next week.

The Heath and Hampstead Society has submitted an objection to the plans on a number of grounds.

David Castle, chairman of the society’s planning sub-committee, said: “We are very unhappy about it because of the cooking of fish and chips.

“It produces pungent and obtrusive smells so close to residential properties.”

Italian-born Mr Mollura, 58, who also owns the Coffee Cup café in Hampstead High Street, applied to open the new fish venue on the former site of Base restaurant in June, but is still awaiting a decision from Camden Council.

He said: “I want to know why there is this delay? We are going to sell fish and chips but it’s not going to be smelly fish and chips in the old-fashioned style.”

Cllr Tulip Siddiq, Labour parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn at the 2015 general election, says she had been a customer of Mr Mollura’s since she was a teenager and was fully behind the new restaurant plans.

She added: “Melvyn and I are supporting him to open it, I think it will add to the flavour of Hampstead.

“It looks like there’s a small minority of people who are objecting and I hope they get over that.”