Nisa on old Leighton Arms pub site that 'shouldn't be there' hopes charity will win neighbours over
PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 June 2019
It's the shop that shouldn't be there - according to Camden Council, a number of neighbours, and even actor Charles Dance.
But the family running the controversial Nisa store on the site of the old Leighton Arms pub are hopeful working with the community can help guarantee its future.
The conversion of the old pub - which closed in 2016 - into a shop was declared unlawful by Camden Council last year, but developer Bryanston appealed, and the case is now set to be heard at a public planning inquiry.
Tabrez Hussain, 27, runs the shop and two others as part of his parents' Nisa franchise. He told this newspaper the uncertainty was troubling.
He said: "There's been all of this outrage, even on our official opening.
"It's pretty hard - we don't know when we might have to close and lose it all."
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As far as most people are concerned, the shop has officially been open for almost a year. But key to the Bryanston case is that it was actually open before that - as far back as September 2016.
Tabrez said: "We were briefly open as a kind of pop-up shop to see if it could work without being an off-licence. With all of the building work above still going on, this wasn't great." The council disputes that the shop was open even then.
Tabrez said he felt the "outrage" over was misplaced. "We've had customers come in and tell us it's a much nicer bit of the community now, that the pub - towards the end - wasn't a nice place to be," he said.
He also felt worries about the viability of a nearby corner shop - Susan's Mini-Mart - were misplaced.
He said: "I mean we're different markets, we don't do the lottery or magazines - that was a deliberate decision."
The business has as part of a national Nisa scheme made donations to local community groups and schools.
So far, they have given donations of around £2,000 to the Hilldrop Community Association, while they have also made a donation to the local Torriano Primary School.
Tabrez said: "Look, we're part of the community and that's what it's about. Being our closest neighbour, Hilldrop Community Centre stood out as an excellent opportunity to get involved with our local community."