Vote has put Torriano's future in even greater peril

The Lib Dem election propaganda that they saved the Torriano pub and their suggestion that the Green councillor voted against saving it is another example of their many attempts to mislead Kentish Town voters. The reality is very different – they have ta

The Lib Dem election propaganda that they saved the Torriano pub and their suggestion that the Green councillor voted against saving it is another example of their many attempts to mislead Kentish Town voters.

The reality is very different - they have taken a huge gamble over the future of the pub for what appears to be short-term political gain. It is fair however to acknowledge the support that Cllr Scott has given to this campaign.

During the planning committee meeting on Thursday, the key concerns of objectors were that the Torriano continues long-term as a pub and the basement continues as a licensed music venue.

Councillors on the committee sought a binding legal agreement from the developers to ensure this, which the developers agreed to.


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Camden's lawyers confirmed that such an agreement could be drawn up and would be enforceable. This left us with two options: to vote yes but with the benefit of an agreement that the pub and basement would not simply be left empty as is often done by developers in these circumstances; or to vote against, and leave things to chance considering the likelihood of an appeal.

Brian Woodrow, the most experienced member of the committee, decided to vote for the application with this agreement, which if passed, would have saved the Torriano as a pub and licensed music venue. In our view, there were no significant planning reasons for refusal.

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The Lib Dems voted as a block against the application and the legally binding agreement and a short while later, circulated an election leaflet about the issue, making their vote look like an attempt to gain electoral support.

I am concerned that what they have actually done is to put the Torriano in greater jeopardy. The developers are appealing against the decision and will not need to offer to enter into any binding legal agreement to keep the pub open.

My concern at the meeting was that they would be likely to succeed. I remain concerned about this and also that, considering the weak grounds for refusal and that the developer agreed to the conditions sought, an inspector may well consider the behaviour of the Lib Dem and two Labour councillors to be unreasonable and award costs against the council while allowing the development to proceed.

The root of the problem is that the freehold of the pub is now owned by property developers and there isn't sufficient protection for pubs in Camden's planning policy, especially for accommodation ancillary to the pub for proprietors.

To protect great local pubs like this one, Greens will seek to strengthen planning policies. We also hope the developers will now reach an agreement with publicans and sell the freehold to them at a fair price as that would be the best way to 'save the Torriano'.

The Lib Dem suggestion that they saved it last Thursday and that the Greens voted against this is a cynical misrepresentation.

Cllr Maya de Souza

(Green Party) Highgate ward

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