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Former Farringdon publican: ‘Working people priced out of area – and out of pint’

Former White Bear Pub landlord’s verdict as trendy operator moves into pub he had to quit

18 September, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

A PUB landlord who says he was forced out of London when he lost a planning battle with developers has warned that low-income, working people are being priced out of Clerkenwell.

Jonathan Marchant-Heatley was speaking to the Tribune as it was revealed his former watering hole – the White Bear pub in St John Street – is to be taken over by trendy new operators.

He ran the business for almost 20 years with his father, Bryan “Oz” Heatley, but moved out after a developer won permission to “reconfigure” the 19th century pub to allow the creation of four flats above.

Mr Marchant-Heatley, who as a child actor starred in Grange Hill, said: “We battled for so long against the landlords. In the end we didn’t have it in us financially to continue to challenge them.

“It’s a typical case of gentrification. As the price of the property increases, so the rates increase and then the pub needs to put up the cost of a pint.

“Before you know it, working people are priced out of the area and priced out of a pint. We were not prepared to do that.”

The father-and-son team, who had lived above the pub, tried to rally support from regulars to challenge the scheme back in 2016, but developer Consulco Capital Real Estate eventually won planning permission for the new flats.

Mr Marchant-Heatley struck a deal before he left ensuring the ground floor would remain as a pub. The Tribune can reveal that pub chain Barworks, which has a string of venues in Camden, Hackney, Soho and Islington, is taking on the lease.

Barworks operational manager Lee Godwin said it planned to keep the bar as a “proper boozer”, adding: “We want a good range of great lagers and craft beers with decent boutique spirit brands. “It’s going to be a straight-up pub with quality sandwiches, deli-style.”

Barworks, which runs the Three Johns in White Lion Street and Exmouth Arms above Exmouth Market, plans to open by the end of the month.

Mr Godwin said: “We know the area well, it’s our normal stomping ground. “We have always liked the look of the pub, so when the opportunity came up we took it.”

Consulco Capital Real Estate was approached for comment but did not respond.

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