CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Game of Thrones star Charles Dance calls for pub to be saved from supermarket switch

Camden Council has issued an enforcement notice after Leighton Arms building was converted in a Nisa shop

19 July, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Charles Dance and fellow protesters meets MP Keir Starmer

GAME of Thrones actor Charles Dance has thrown his weight behind a bid to save a pub from being permanently turned into a mini-supermarket.

He said the conversion of the Leighton Arms, in Brecknock Road, Kentish Town, into a Nisa convenience store without approval from council planners was “jaw-dropping”.

Mr Dance, known for films such as Gosford Park and Alien 3, was among protesters who handed in a petition – signed by 1,200 people – against the switch at the Town Hall on Monday and shared their frustration in a meeting with Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer.

As the New Journal reported earlier this month, the council has issued an “enforcement notice” calling on developers to reverse its work at the building, which has included kitting out the new supermarket and erecting a Nisa sign.

The pub was once known for its Sunday afternoon music sessions, pints of London-brewed Truman’s beer and homemade cheese and onion sandwiches. It closed three years ago after owners began converting the upper floors into flats. The pub had already been at the centre of a planning wrangle over proposals to build two new houses in its beer garden – a move that neighbours warned would jeopardise its future. Those properties are now built, but instead of re-opening to serve drinks, the pub’s owners, Bryanston Investments, have signed a 15-year lease with shopkeepers to run it as a Nisa-branded supermarket.

Mr Dance, who lives nearby, told the New Journal: “It is jaw-dropping, the cheek of it amazes us. It is extraordinary that this developer should go ahead and build something that has clearly not been approved by the council.”

He added that pubs need greater planning protection amid closures in north London. “There is a Nisa supermarket already just 250 yards away and there are many others nearby in Kentish Town – it is completely unnecessary,” said Mr Dance. “We are calling on the council to get this back to being a pub as quickly as possible. This is an illegal development and to simply enforce the law is a horrendous waste of public money.”

Petition organiser Jo Siedlecka added: “This shows a blatant disregard for planning law and is a waste of council funds to simply make sure they do what is right. The Leighton Arms must be returned to its proper use.”

Bryanston Investments contest the allegations and say they have broken no planning rules.

Director Martin Cromer has previously said that the firm “acted in good faith at all times and within the law”.

Camden Council’s regeneration chief, Labour councillor Danny Beales, said: “We’ve served the developers with an enforcement notice asking them to cease the retail use and revert the pub’s frontage to its original state. The developers have to comply with the notice by 27th October or lodge an appeal.”

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