Third burglary at Hampstead newsagent prompts plea for security shutters in conservation area

Pravin and Neela Malviya outside their shop Village Newsagents in Heath Street. Picture: Nigel Sutto

Pravin and Neela Malviya outside their shop Village Newsagents in Heath Street. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A newsagent has questioned a town hall rule that stops businesses putting up shutters – after burglars smashed into his shop in the third raid in just over a year.

Pravin Malviya, 72, and his wife Neela, 67, were once again clearing up shattered glass and scattered stock last week after thieves broke into their Village Newsagents store overnight.

It was the second time this year and third since Spring 2012 that the shop, in Heath Street, has been targeted.

Now Mr Malviya has urged Camden Council to drop its ban on security shutters and grilles in the Hampstead conservation area.

The shopkeeper says the policy stops him from fully protecting the shop, which he and his wife have run for nearly 32 years.

“Because it’s a conservation area, they won’t let anyone have shutters,” he said. “It’s a very archaic and stupid policy .

“It may have worked in the last century, but with burglaries on the increase, you need to be able to protect your property somehow.”

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After smashing the window, the culprits knocked over the till and made off with its cash drawer.

There was no money inside, but the Malviyas still had to clean up the mess and pay for a new windowpane.

Camden Council requires shops in Hampstead to seek planning permission for shutters, as they are deemed to “detract” from the conservation area’s appearance.

Council guidelines state there will be a “general presumption against” any such application.

Cllr Linda Chung, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Hampstead Town, said she sympathised with the Malviyas, but warned against harming the high street.

A Camden Council spokesman said: “We strongly encourage internal rather than external security measures like improved internal lighting, alarm systems, or the use of toughened glass.

“Shutters can create a hostile appearance, and affect the commercial viability of an area and harm the pedestrian experience.”

Police are investigating.