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Video call to rule on bid to reopen ‘iconic’ Archway Tavern

Town Hall licensing chiefs will hold an online meeting over future of pub that has stood empty since 2014

24 April, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

An application to reopen the Archway Tavern, which sits in Navigator Square, will be considered next Wednesday

THERE may be a lockdown keeping Islington’s favourite watering holes closed for the forseeable future, but a famous pub is due to learn next week whether it can secure a new licence to reopen.

The long saga of the iconic Archway Tavern, standing empty in the middle of Navigator Square since 2014, could take a decisive turn when a licence variation application is considered by Town Hall chiefs next Wednesday.

It is set to be the fourth council meeting to take place using Zoom video conferencing technology – the first time licensing or planning issues have ever been considered in such a way – as democratic processes around the country adapt to coronavirus conditions.

Councillor Satnam Gill, the Town Hall’s lead on democratic services, said: “Video-conferencing technology allows us to continue our important role in facilitating local democracy and to remain as transparent and publicly accountable as possible.”

Under normal circumstances, local authorities are required to hold committee meetings in person in a council building.

But in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the government has temporarily allowed the council to hold meetings using video or telephone conferencing technology.

Sokol Toska, who runs the Nightclub Koli in the same building as the Archway Tavern, has taken the pub on and hopes to permanently reopen it.

Junction ward councillors Janet Burgess, Sheila Chapman and Kaya Comer-Schwartz, as well as Hillrise ward councillor David Poyser, have written to the licensing committee supporting the application.

They said: “This is an iconic building and should be used for its historic function, as a pub. Whilst appreciating that this is a variation in licence, rather than a new application, we would like the opening hours of the ground-floor pub area to be in line with the council’s recommended opening hours.”

The letter added: “There should be restrictions on hours when the outside areas of both the upstairs terrace and the area in front of the main doors can be used because of the noise impact on the area.

“We would also like a specific condition to ensure respectful dispersal of customers from the tavern in order to avoid loitering on Navigator Square.”

Council officers have recommended that Town Hall chiefs add conditions to the licence application if it is approved.

• The council last night (Thursday) rejected a licence application from Kiss Me Lounge, in Essex Road. Neighbours had feared its new owners would be turning the premises from a South American steak house into a “lap-dancing” venue.

But Kiss Me Lounge owner Onder Aydemir said that many residents may have got the wrong impression by the name of his venue, and said he planned to run a “family-friendly” restaurant.

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