The Squirrel pub: Westminster block redevelopment, but owner says community ‘didn’t use’ Maida Vale boozer
PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 30 August 2019
Campaigners are “chuffed” after Westminster Council rejected plans to convert the Squirrel pub in Maida Vale into flats.
Freeholder The Cowell Group had hoped the council would back its proposal to redevelop the historic pub - formerly called the Skiddaw Hotel, but a council-commisioned viability study suggested a pub was in fact viable on the site. Along with more than 80 complaints from local people and the town hall's policy to protect pubs, this led council planners to reject the application.
But a director of the company which own the site said it had tried and failed to find someone to take the pub on as a going concern.
One of the leading campaigners, local councillor Tim Roca (Lab, Harrow Road) told the Wood&Vale: "We're chuffed but it's the beginning of something, not the end.
"We are now going to have to start a discussion about how we can get the pub re-opened."
Adrian Levy, a director of the Cowell Group (TCG) who own the building, told this newspaper "the real issue is that no-one is going to pubs anymore".
Adrian, who wanted to make clear that had not operated the pub, added: "The pub closed down because it was losing money year after year. It was being run by an experienced pub operator.
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"We would like to have it for the local community but clearly it wasn't being used.
"The property was on the market for a new pub operator for over two year without any success at all. It's still on the market."
He said that although TCG disagreed with the viability report, they would happily work with a pub operator.
Cllr Roca added he was pleased for the campaigners, who he said had "put in a shift" and delivered leaflets to "hundreds of homes" and crowdfunded £1,200 to support objections to the planning application.
Planning chief Cllr Richard Beddoe said: "The Squirrel is a much loved local and a focal point for people in Maida Vale - it's vital we do all we can to save this sort of pub from the wrecking ball."
The pub, which dates back to at least 1881, was once a favourite watering hole of The Clash's Joe Strummer and Irish playwright Brendan Behan.