Neighbours concerned historic Abbey Road pub could be turned into shisha bar

The Salt House pub in Abbey Road. Picture: Rosie Holtom

The Salt House pub in Abbey Road. Picture: Rosie Holtom - Credit: Archant

Neighbours in St John’s Wood are unhappy about a proposed shisha bar moving into the area in place of a popular former pub.

The Salt House, in historic Abbey Road, closed on Christmas Eve after the pub was sold by Greene King. It had been in St John's Wood for 146 years.

A petition started last year by Rosie Holtom, who lived above the pub with her partner Eduardo Martins, got 1,635 signatures in favour of keeping the building as a pub.

A planning application has recently been submitted by the Max Barney Pub Company, who bought the pub off Greene King in January, to extend the outside canopy.

After conversations with builders at the site, neighbours fear the application means it could be turned into a shisha bar - which one neighbour in Belgrave Gardens believes isn't right for the street.

"I think it's inappropriate for the area," he said. "You've got the fumes coming from it, and it's not something that's there to serve everyone.

"A pub is welcoming to all whereas a shisha cafe is for that purpose only."

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He believes the Salt House should stay as a traditional pub, as it was a focal point for what is a disjointed community.

"This is a very transient area, with a lot of people who are young professionals commuting into the City for work, and then coming home. There's very little way to get a sense of community going.

"The pub meant you could go in there, have a drink and get to know people who lived nearby.

"It's been a massive loss to the area."

Campaigners are looking to make the pub an asset of community value (ACV).

That would give some protection to the pub site, and mean that, if it is re-sold, the community has six months to raise the cash to put in a bid.

A spokesperson for the Barney Pub Company confirmed they own the pub. However they didn't respond to a request for further comment.

A spokesperson for Westminster city council said: "The council cannot comment on outstanding planning applications. This scheme will be considered at a future planning committee based on its individual merits and in line with council policy."