Save the Old White Bear: Hampstead pub has ACV renewed as council urge re-opening ASAP

The Old White Bear pub. Picture: Harry Taylor

The Old White Bear pub. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Archant

Five years after its regulars were last able to order a pint, the Old White Bear pub in New End has had its Asset of Community Value (ACV) status renewed.

The pub closed in February 2014 amid fears for its future, but shortly afterwards campaigners were secured ACV status.

This was set to expire, but members of the Save the Old White Bear group rallied the community to support a renewal for another five years.

The group, which surveyed 800 residents – 98 per cent supported the pub reopening – and sent 600 letters of support to the council, welcomed the news.

New End resident and Hampstead Village BID board member Philip Matthews is part of Save the Old White Bear.

He told the Ham&High: “It’s a relief. It’s an important precedent for other pubs that may have been closed a long time.

“It’s become very clear that it’s a pub that there’s a very strong feeling in support of.”

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After closing, the pub lay empty until 2017, when it was bought by the owners of the private Heathside School – who include headteacher Melissa Remus.

Planning permission for the school to take over the upper floors of the building but retain the pub on the ground floor was granted, and a publican – Dan Brod – was even found to take over behind the bar.

But despite being initially told he would be able to open up in 2018, Dan has not heard from Ms Remus as to when the pub will be opening.

“It puts more pressure on Melissa Remus, and on the council who have been reticent to do anything,” said Mr Matthews of the ACV renewal.

Camden’s regeneration chief Cllr Danny Beales said the town hall’s policies were to “robustly protect pubs”.

“Unfortunately, the council has no power to control the timescale in which the pub reopens,” he added.

“It is clear that there is passionate community support for the pub and I call on the owners to get it open again as soon as possible.”

In December 2018, a spokesperson for Heathside School said: “We still intend to re-open the Old White Bear soon but can not currently say when that will be.” But the school has not responded to our request for an update on when this will happen.