Relief as council refuses new canopies plan for Abbey Road pub - but campaigners fear it could still become a shisha cafe

Save The Salt House Picture: Rosie Holtom

Save The Salt House Picture: Rosie Holtom - Credit: Archant

St John’s Wood campaigners have had their fears allayed that a historic pub was going to be turned into a shisha bar, but asked for reassurance over the its future.

The Max Barney Pub Company had submitted an application to replace the canopies outside the Abbey Road venue, and to add an additional one to the corner.

After speaking to builder on site in August, locals became worried it would be turned into a shisha bar. According to the council's rejection letter, builders have already removed much of its interior, something local residents back up. The council also raised concerns about the developer's possible intentions to convert the pub.

It closed on Christmas Eve last year after being bought by Max Barney from Greene King.

One neighbour in Belgrave Gardens said he welcomed the refusal, but said Max Barney needed to be clear about their intentions for the site.

"I'm very pleased the council has taken all the objections into account. I'm particularly pleased that to change the use of the pub it will require planning permission.

"However the developer could still launch a planning application to do this. We'd like to see reassurance from them that it will stay as a pub in its current form."

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He also called for the St John's Wood Society to lead an application to make the pub an asset of community value (ACV). "They are the only ones in the area who have the know-how, expertise and contacts to do it. The lack of community makes it very difficult otherwise."

The St John's Wood Society and 14 neighbours objected to the application and said it would have a negative impact on the building, on the street scape and the conservation area.

The objection, submitted by the society's secretary Christine Cowdray said: "Year round use of covered and heated outside seating space until late at night has a significant negative impact on the amenity of neighbours."

In rejecting the application, Westminster City Council said multiple concerns had been raised about the conversion of the pub into a shisha bar, It also noted the landlord owned other shisha bars, and the bars generally lead to increased pollution, noise, traffic and safety.

It also confirmed that turning the pub into a restaurant or cafe would need a change of use to be passed by the council.