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The Squirrel: Community protests against plans to build on historic Maida Vale pub

PUBLISHED: 11:45 08 May 2019

Save The Squirrel campaigners outside the under-threat pub in Maida Vale on Saturday May 4. Picture: Polly Hancock

Save The Squirrel campaigners outside the under-threat pub in Maida Vale on Saturday May 4. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Campaigners and beer lovers are furious at plans to convert the Squirrel pub in Maida Vale into flats.

Karen Buck MP addresses Save The Squirrel campaigners outside the under-threat pub. Picture: Polly HancockKaren Buck MP addresses Save The Squirrel campaigners outside the under-threat pub. Picture: Polly Hancock

A group including Karen Buck MP and a six foot furry squirrel demonstrated outside of the historic boozer - once a favourite watering hole of The Clash's Joe Strummer and Irish playwright Brendan Behan - last Saturday in hope of deterring developers who want to build five flats on the premises.

The pub, which is on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Chippenham Road, has been open since at least 1881.

Local councillor Cllr Tim Roca (Lab, Harrow Road) helped co-ordinate the demonstration and said the pub was "intrinsic" to the local community.

He told the Wood&Vale: "The Squirrel, formerly The Skiddaw is a valued, much loved local pub. It has been nothing short of tragic seeing poor management lead where local residents have long feared, that it is now under threat from developers.

Harrow Road councillor Tim Roca with Save The Squirrel campaigners in Maida Vale on Saturday May 4. Picture: Polly HancockHarrow Road councillor Tim Roca with Save The Squirrel campaigners in Maida Vale on Saturday May 4. Picture: Polly Hancock

"The community are absolutely determined to oppose the destruction of this important social amenity and local landmark."

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Previously the pub was known as the Red Squirrel and the Skiddaw Hotel.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have long lauded the pub's historic interior and its heritage, and it even listed the pub as one of Britain's Real Heritage Pubs on its National Inventory of Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest.

West London CAMRA rep Paul Charlton told this newspaper: "The pub retains many Victorian features and it would be sad to see it blown away, particularly as the surrounding area has lost a number of pubs in recent years including the Chippenham. 
"We would hope that Westminster Council would do its utmost to assert its pub protection policy regarding this site, bearing in mind the National Planning Policy Framework and its own draft City Plan provisions."

The applicant, the Cowell Group, told this newspaper: "The current tenant sadly went into administration due to lack of local trade. "They tried in vain for 2 years to find a buyer for their lease or for someone to take over the lease without success.

"As a consequence we see no point in having this property vacant. As there is a housing shortage we are taking the opportunity of going for change of use to provide flats for rent in this area of which there is a high demand."

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