Locals celebrate as Freemasons Arms and Garden Gate pubs listed as Assets of Community Value

The Garden Gate pub in South End Road is popular for its beer garden

The Garden Gate pub in South End Road is popular for its beer garden - Credit: Archant

Campaigners are celebrating a double victory in their ongoing battle to stop Hampstead pubs being shut down by developers. The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum has succeeded in getting two more much-loved pubs special blanket protection by being listed as “assets of community value” (ACV) by Camden Council.

The Freemasons Arms in Downshire Hill

The Freemasons Arms in Downshire Hill - Credit: Archant

The most recent pubs to be granted ACV status are the Freemasons Arms, in Downshire Hill, and the Garden Gate, in South End Road.

As reported in the Ham&High in April last year, the forum launched a campaign to make history by having 12 pubs in the area given ACV status.

This status gives them special protection under new legislation announced in January, and take away permitted development rights through which developers can carry out work without planning permission.

When an ACV-listed pub goes up for sale there must first be a six-month moratorium giving community groups time to come up with the cash if they want to buy it.

Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum launch a campaign protect all of the local pubs in Hampstead

Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum launch a campaign protect all of the local pubs in Hampstead - Credit: Nigel Sutton

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New owners must also apply for planning permission for any change of use, giving the community the chance to have a say.

The group is now halfway to its target. The latest listings bring the total to six, with others including the King William IV, Holly Bush, Wells Tavern and Duke of Hamilton.

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Janine Griffis, chair of the forum, said the area had lost eight of its 20 pubs since the 1980s – among them the Nags Head in Heath Street, which shut in 2006 to become an estate agent, and the King of Bohemia in Hampstead High Street, now a branch of chain boutique Reiss.

It comes as a welcome move after our exclusive investigation revealed £45million of overseas cash was spent on seven iconic pubs in Hampstead, Highgate, Primrose Hill and Camden Town from 2010 to 2014.

Steve Coxshall outside his pub the Duke of Hamilton

Steve Coxshall outside his pub the Duke of Hamilton - Credit: Archant

The doors have since shut at all but one of the pubs. The list of venues standing empty includes The Magdala pub in Hampstead, iconic gay pub The Black Cap in Camden Town and Ye Olde White Bear in Hampstead.

The other pubs being nominated for ACV status by the forum are the Old Bull and Bush in North End Road, the Horseshoe in Heath Street, The Flask in Flask Walk, and The White Horse, the Roebuck in South End Green, and the now-closed Rosslyn Arms, in Rosslyn Hill,

But the forum’s campaign was criticised by independent landlord Steve Coxshall, at the Duke of Hamilton, who opposed the ACV listing of his own pub and branded the campaigners “hypocrites”

Independent landlord Steve Coxshall who runs the Duke of Hamilton pub, in New End, believes the only way to save pubs is by “putting your money where your mouth is” and buying drinks.

As reported in the Ham&High, when the Duke was listed as an ACV in November last year he spoke of his anger.

Mr Coxshall said: “They went ahead against my wishes despite never coming in or buying a drink. The only reason my pub has any community value is because of all the money I put in and work I have done.

“In a time of economic uncertainty, if money were to stop coming in, I am the one who would be prevented from selling my pub at market value and be penalised. I am furious. The ACV has devalued my pub.”

Mr Coxshall bought The Duke in 2011, saving it from being turned into houses.

He attracts drinkers from all over the capital with his Rabbit Hole comedy and jazz nights.

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