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‘Property firm shut our booming pub’

Regulars fear ‘Carps’, with its darts matches and weddings, will become ‘something fashionable’

24 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Carpenters Arms regulars have said that closure ‘will be the end for another community asset that has served the area for over 140 years’

A PLANNING inspector has heard how a pub at the heart of the community hosted darts teams five nights a week for 20 years before it was shut by a developer.

Former regulars at the Carpenters Arms, in King’s Cross, are in a battle with property company Mendoza, which wants to create three new flats above the pub. It was refused planning permission, a decision now being challenged.

The final decision now rests with planning inspector Alastair Phillips, who heard from both sides at an appeal hearing this week.
He visited the pub on Tuesday and is expected to reach a decision within six weeks.

The pub’s former landlord, Dave Wheeler, who lost his home and is now registered homeless but without enough points to get on the council waiting list, was joined by supporters at the Camden town hall hearing.

“We had five darts teams, Monday to Friday, and the custom was for the landlord to supply the food for the teams,” Mr Wheeler told the hearing.

“We had numerous weddings. We would supply the buffets. Wet sales were very good. It was a successful pub for 20 years but Mendoza shut it down.”

The inspector was told how Mendoza bought the King’s Cross Road pub in 2013.

It has said it will open a drinking establishment in place of the Carps but has not been clear what form it will take. Former customers fear a gastropub will replace the traditional pub.

The main issues at stake, according to the planning inspector, are whether the application to create three flats would jeopardise the running of a new venue downstairs – listed as an asset of community value – and whether noise from the pub would make the flats uninhabitable.

Ken Hogg, a pub expert appearing for Mendoza, told the inspector that the new establishment would be a “lock-up”-style venue, without any live-in staff. Mr Wheeler responded: “It will no longer be run for the community then, will it? The manager could be living in Hollywood. They’ll just be running a business.”

Mendoza rep Chris Hicks said the three flats proposed were “all family size, two two-beds and a three-bed”. They were “meeting a need” in terms of building more homes in Camden.

He told Mr Wheeler: “Times are moving on”. “Maybe for you,” replied Mr Wheeler, who lived above the pub for 20 years.

Judy Dainton, from Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood Association, warned that the developer’s plans to turn the pub into “something fashionable” were a retrograde step.

Ian Shacklock, representing the Campaign for Real Ale, said that the regeneration of King’s Cross had “not done a lot for Carpenters”, adding that new bars popping up did not serve the community.

A statement from Carpenters Arms Supporters group, read out at the hearing, said: “If the appeal is upheld it will be the end for another community asset that has served the area for over 140 years, turning the area into a sterile community with no focal point, no place to meet friends and relax for a few hours.”

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