The Salt House: Worker at St John's Wood pub says 'shisha bar' could open in a month's time
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:45 29 August 2019
The Salt House pub could reopen as a "shisha bar and pub" in a month's time, the Wood&Vale understands - despite the fact it has no planning permission to do so.
Neighbours worry new signage at the site in Abbey Road could spell the end for the pub as they knew it. The signage also hasn't been approved by the City of Westminster Council.
The council turned down a planning application late last year to put an awning and heaters outside the venue in Abbey Road. However in the last week, new "Rawsha" signs have been put up on the outside the building, while work continues behind a wooden screen.
When asked, a builder told the Wood&Vale it would be open in a month, and would be a "shisha bar and pub" - as residents had always believed.
The pub, which had been in St John's Wood for 148 years, closed on Christmas Eve 2017. The Max Barney pub company then bought it from Greene King, and lodged a planning application replace the canopy in August the following year.
One neighbour in Belgrave Gardens said they believed it was a step towards the shisha bar opening, fears they initially raised last year.
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"The lettering that has gone up is more like a nightclub than a pub," they said. "The council has said before it would need planning permission to change into a shisha bar, and they haven't got it. But they seem to be going ahead regardless."
They said they still believe it's "not appropriate" for the leafy corner of St John's Wood, and fear that, if it opens, there could be parking problems.
Geoff Barraclough, Labour councillor for Maida Vale, who sits on the planning committee, is concerned.
"The council has already said it won't grant planning permission to open as a shisha cafe. That building's a pub and that is its lawful usage.
"If it was quite obvious it wasn't a pub - if it was a cafe where people smoke shisha and they serve alcohol - you would have to say that it wasn't a pub at all."
Confusingly, Westminster has the Wood&Vale the work currently taking place does not need planning permission.
A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said: "The council cannot comment on outstanding planning applications. We are monitoring the ongoing work at this property."