Supporters of threatened Hampstead pub issue rallying cry

COMMUNITY and business groups in Hampstead are mobilising in a valiant effort to avoid time being called on yet another of the village s pubs. The Duke of Hamilton on New End is threatened with closure after its owner – The Wellington Pub Company applied

COMMUNITY and business groups in Hampstead are mobilising in a valiant effort to avoid time being called on yet another of the village's pubs.

The Duke of Hamilton on New End is threatened with closure after its owner - The Wellington Pub Company applied to convert the 250-year-old pub into two luxury houses.

The plans, which were first revealed by the Ham&High in December last year, have caused uproar in Hampstead with residents and fans of traditional independent pubs fearing the loss of another watering hole.

But this week business group NW3 Hampstead and the Heath and Hampstead Society have backed a growing clamour for planning chiefs at Camden Council to reject the plans.


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Robert Balyuzi of NW3 Hampstead said: "I think it is appalling. This pub has been there all my life. We lost so many already. It is very sad. It is not as if it is not frequented, it is a popular business. If it was dying you could understand the owners doing this but that is just not the case. They have got no consideration for the residents whatsoever."

Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society told his members at Monday night's AGM he was backing the campaign to save the pub.

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He said: "I should like to offer our support to those who want to stop the Duke of Hamilton, one of the few remaining historic real ale locals, from being knocked down and developed as housing.

"It urgently needs a very strong and well-organised campaign to achieve this, and we will do what we can to help. I should emphasise that this is entirely consistent with our long and successful campaign to encourage civilised local drinking at the expense of the late night crowd, for which I am told we have in some quarters wrongly earned a quite unjustified reputation of geriatric spoil sports."

Leaflets were distributed to members of the society by local councillors instructing them on how to object to the Wellington Pub Company's proposals.

The Duke of Hamilton has been run for the last quarter of a century by landlords Michael and Mary Wooderson but with their lease having expired, the fight to save the pub has fallen on the shoulders of residents.

Hampstead's Rob Kniaz and fellow fans of the pub have formed a campaign group to organise efforts which are being coordinated through www.savetheduke.com

Mr Kniaz told the Ham&High: "We simply do not need more luxury flats in Hampstead. We are filing planning objections and writing letters to our MPs and councillors as well."

On Tuesday night residents and members of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) joined forces at the pub to protest against its closure.

If the campaign fails the Duke of Hamilton will go the same way as The Belsize Tavern, The Coach and Horses and Three Horse Shoes, which are just some of the pubs to have bit the dust in recent years.

The Wellington Pub Company, despite repeated calls from the Ham&High, have not commented on their plans or the storm they have created in Hampstead.

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