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Farringdon pub stays, but family are ready to leave after 17 years

Father-and-son team plan farewell to the White Bear after 17 years due to flats development

21 April, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Jonathon Marchant-Heatley: ‘We could have fought but it could have cost us a lot of cash and a lot of time and we might still have been in the same position’

A FAMILY have agreed to give up their pub – as long as the building remains a boozer.

The father-and-son team running the White Bear, in Farringdon, tried to rally support from drinkers after being told just before Christmas that they could be kicked out within months.

Bryan “Oz” Heatley and his son Jonathon Marchant-Heatley have operated the St John Street pub for 17 years.

Oz, 67, lives above the pub and faced being homeless after Lipton Plant Architects made an application, on behalf of Consulco Capital Real Estate, to “reconfigure” the 19th-century pub and create four new flats above it.

But now the family have agreed a deal to stay open until January 2018, and then call time.

“It’s sad but we have to try to look at the positives,” Mr Marchant-Heatley said. “We could have fought but it could have cost us a lot of cash and a lot of time and we might still have been in the same position. We have sort of got what we wanted.”

He said it gave his father – and the pub’s popular dogs Bo, Poppet, Bud and Millie – more time to find somewhere to live and for him to find a new job.

Crucial to the deal was the “promise” that the ground floor would still be used as a drinking establishment.

Papers submitted to the Town Hall show the developers are committed to the idea. There were concerns that having flats immediately above the new pub would cause noise problems and eventually lead to its closure, but the first-floor flat is now set to become the manager’s accommodation.

Britain’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame has expressed an interest, as has Craft Beer Co, which runs a pub in Angel, and the increasingly popular Simmons Bars, with venues in King’s Cross and Camden.
Development consultant Peacock and Smith has said: “It is important that all parties appreciate the applicant’s intention to retain the public house use.” The changes would increase the operational floorspace.

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