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Planning inspector rules Nisa can stay in converted Kentish Town pub after row

PUBLISHED: 16:38 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:55 23 December 2019

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

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The controversial Nisa store on the site of the old Leighton Arms pub will be able to continue trading after a planning inspector ruled in its favour in the days leading up to Christmas.

Neighbours noticed supermarket shelves being built and Nisa branding. Picture: Sam VolpeNeighbours noticed supermarket shelves being built and Nisa branding. Picture: Sam Volpe

Although it will have to alter its shopfront, the inspector ruled that the loss of the old pub was not contrary to Camden's planning policy

Developer Bryanston Investments had appealed a planning enforcement notice because it believed it had completed the conversion under permitted development (PD) regulations.

But inspector Diane Lewis found this was not the case - despite accepting that a small "retail operation" had been open in August 2017.

This had been a point of contention, with neighbours and Camden Council adamant there had not been a shop on the premises at the time. The shop officially opened in June 2018, having been boarded up in the preceding months.

The Nisa at 101 Brecknock Road. It used to be the Leighton Arms pub. Picture: Sam VolpeThe Nisa at 101 Brecknock Road. It used to be the Leighton Arms pub. Picture: Sam Volpe

In her ruling, Ms Lewis said by August 2017 - when the change of use would have to have occurred by in order for PD rights to apply - there had only been "very limited" changes to the shop's interior, that it did not have "the typical basics associated with a shop" and "had no identity as a shop".

She added: "The impact of the shop use was not significant, the retail use was minimal and should be disregarded. As a matter of fact and degree a material change of use did not take place."

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Ms Lewis also ruled the developers and shop management have six months to complete alterations to the shopfront which she deemed "not an appropriate design solution in this instance".

Camden Council brought enforcement proceedings against the shop last year, but Bryanston appealed and argued argued that even if PD had not been in place, a planning application for the conversion should be granted, as the pub had not been viable and other pubs locally could cater for its customers.

Ms Lewis agreed with this.

Martin Cramer, one of the directors of Bryanston Investments told this newspaper: "Well, we've been vindicated, haven't we?" He said he would release a further statement in due course.

Sandhya Chowdhury, who runs the neighbouring Susan's Mini Mart with her husband has been one of the local people opposed to the Nisa. She told the Ham&High: "The community is very shocked by this decision."

Camden Council's planning chief Cllr Danny Beales said: ""We are disappointed that the inspector has granted planning permission for the change of use from a pub to a shop, but are pleased that they have agreed with us that the alterations to the building's frontage are unacceptable and that amendments are now required.

"The inspector also agreed with the council that planning permission was required for the change of use and that this could not be undertaken as permitted development, as Nisa tried to argue in the appeal."

He added that the council took protecting local pubs seriously, referencing other planning appeals and updates to the Local Plan - which governs planning policy in the borough.


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