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Archway pub saved from demolition is forced to close due to lack of business

PUBLISHED: 07:13 28 December 2012

Whittington and Cat. Picture by Tony Gay

Whittington and Cat. Picture by Tony Gay

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

A historic pub that was due to be turned into flats has been saved from the wrecking ball as council bosses move to save the borough's boozers - but its owners say they are shutting up shop anyway because they cannot make the business pay.

The owners of the Whittington & Cat, in Highgate Hill, Archway, wanted to bulldoze the pub and replace it with six flats set in a three-storey building.

The £500,000 development would have seen the Victorian façade retained.

But Islington Council, which is to due in February to introduce a planning policy to retain pubs as so many are under threat threw out this application.

The Whittington & Cat has stood since the late 1800s and its name is a nod to the folk tale of Dick Whittington – a poor boy who is said to have been on Highgate Hill when he heard the Bow Bells call him back to London.

Cllr Janet Burgess, a Labour councillor for Junction ward, was “delighted” with the decision, saying: “It’s a much-loved pub for local people.

“It serves the area well and it’s a community asset that we didn’t want to see lost.”

But landlord Gerry McGovern said: “There is no trade anymore so I am looking to move on.”

The Terry McGovern Family Trust, which owns the pub, the land behind and the collapsed building next door, will appeal to The Planning Inspectorate.

The trust previously had planning permission for a similar application but it lapsed last year as work had not started in time.

Architect Alan Cox, of Alan Cox Associates, speaking on behalf of the Tony McGovern Family Trust, said: “I think they are going to try to see the Christmas trade out and then close.

“It’s all right for the planners to have a policy of retaining pubs but pubs can’t stay open if they can’t make a profit.”

But John Cryne, of the north London branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, “wholeheartedly” welcomed Islington’s new planning stance, adding: “It’s a shame it wasn’t sooner. Islington has lost 30 to 40 per cent of its pubs over the last 15 to 20 years and something has to be done to stop that haemorrhage.

“I am sure an entrepreneurial owner could make the Whittington & Cat very successful.”

An Islington Council spokeswoman added: “Pubs are an important part of the fabric and history of inner-city areas like Islington and they’re often buildings of historic value.

“This application was turned down for a number of reasons, including the fact that plans would have been harmful to the conservation area.”

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