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New fears for future of favourite Kentish Town watering hole

PUBLISHED: 16:55 12 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:09 07 September 2010

By Ben McPartland A CAMPAIGN has been launched to stop a popular Kentish Town watering hole from being turned in to flats. Landlord of The Torriano on Torriano Avenue, Dean Guberina, is fighting to save his pub from being closed down. Developers Spaces UK

By Ben McPartland

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to stop a popular Kentish Town watering hole from being turned in to flats.

Landlord of The Torriano on Torriano Avenue, Dean Guberina, is fighting to save his pub from being closed down.

Developers Spaces UK, which owns the freehold, have lodged a bid with Camden Council to turn the two floors above the pub into swanky apartments.

Representatives of Spaces UK have told the Ham&High in the past the pub will be safe, but Mr Guberina has dismissed their promises after they refused to renew his lease from next May.

Mr Guberina, 42, who lives above the pub with his partner Suzi Martin and their one-year-son Roko, said he has been kept in the dark about the developers' plans.

"I said to them if they want to keep the pub then give me a new lease, let's make an agreement in writing. But they just say I have to trust them," he said. "I cannot accept that. It will be the end of the business."

Closing the Torriano will be a big blow to the community. The many regulars include newsreader Jon Snow and rock singer Pete Doherty.

And it will be a kick in the teeth for Mr Guberina after he spent £50,000 of his own money upgrading the pub.

"I am fuming. They are going to demolish all the work I've done so what was the point in that?" he said.

"But we are not going to go without a fight. I will go through the courts to make sure I get my lease.

"I have been treated so badly. They just thought they could walk all over us. We have been bullied and harassed. I have never even had a single letter from them. It has all been done through their solicitor."

Mr Guberina first became suspicious about the developers' plans when an architect turned up unannounced last year armed with a measuring tape.

Regulars at The Torriano have rallied to save the pub. Thousands have signed a petition and hundreds have written personal letters demanding the pub remains open.

In a bid to keep neighbours on side, Croatian-born Mr Guberina withdrew an application to extend opening hours at the pub after a number of objections from residents.

Kentish Town's Lib Dem councillor Ralph Scott has also jumped on board to try to save the pub.

"The Torriano is the kind of independent pub people in Kentish Town support," he said. "It brings the community together in one place and for that reason we should protect its future."

A spokesman for Spaces again reiterated the company's desire to keep the Torriano as a pub once the revamp has been carried out.

"It will be a better pub when it reopens, with better facilities. It will have toilets that disabled people can use and a better kitchen. It will continue its excellent local trade," he said.

"The planning application is very clear - the ground floor will remain as a pub."

He added that the issue of Mr Guberina's lease being renewed was a private matter between the two parties.


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