Planning agent bidding to carve up Highgate pub has links to Carlton Tavern demolition scandal

The Winchester in Archway Road, Highgate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The Winchester in Archway Road, Highgate. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Hundreds have joined the fight to save a Victorian pub from being carved up into flats – as it was revealed that those behind the bid are the same as those involved in the Carlton Tavern demolition scandal.

More than 600 people signed a petition and nearly 200 formally objected to a planning application to build two flats behind the bar of The Winchester in Archway Road, Highgate.

Permission was granted in December for one flat on the ground floor of the now-closed historic pub, which once counted actors Liz Hurley and Tom Hardy among its regulars.

But now developer GFO Capital is trying its luck with a second application to build two flats in the back of the pub – and has appointed planning consultants, KR Planning, to help push the bid through.

KR Planning put in a bid on behalf of developer CLTX Ltd to demolish the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale three months before it was knocked down without planning permission in April last year, sparking national outrage.

Christopher Riley, chairman of The Miltons Residents Association (MRA), who launched the Winchester petition, said: “I don’t think they would demolish it, but their aim was never really to run it as a pub, and they will try to carve it up until it all becomes flats. It is dreadful.

“We’ve just begun to regenerate this area and with the Sainsbury’s Local and the new Richardson’s development, which is due to be a Co-op, it will really become a vibrant place to shop. Already there’s a lot more footfall in the road, so it’s a shame that we won’t have a community pub for people to stop off and have a quick drink.”

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Mr Riley listed the pub as an asset of community value (ACV) last year, but the extra layer of planning protection only applies to the bar area of the pub. The Winchester closed in 2014 when previous owners Pat and Val Collins retired after decades as landlords of the pub.

It has not re-opened since, despite the owner of GFO Capital, Matan Amitai, telling the Ham&High last year that it would re-open soon after works to turn former hotel rooms above the bar into flats were completed. But yesterday (Wednesday), Mr Amitai said he was no longer involved in the redevelopment. London Pubs Ltd has bought a lease to run the pub, and wrote to Haringey Council to say that building two flats instead of one would not impact on its business.

But its approval of the plans is vastly outweighed by the sea of opposition from residents, local councillors, the Highgate Society, and the MRA, who have been pounding the streets to campaign for the pub to be saved. “There has been a fantastic response from residents,” Highgate councillor Liz Morris said. “I rang KR Planning and they expect the planning application to be refused, and then they will go straight to appeal. That’s why we want as many objections as possible, and to have a petition, so we are in a good position when it gets in front of a planning inspector.”

GFO Capital and KR Planning were contacted for comment. The project’s architects, Brooks Murray, said it could not discuss the scheme because of a “confidentiality agreement” with its client.

View the petition online.