Stop the carvery: Clerkenwell pub The White Bear could be serving its last Christmas dinners
- Credit: Archant
The family who run a traditional Clerkenwell boozer need a show of Christmas spirit to save it from closure – after finding out from neighbours they could be evicted.
Bryan “Oz” Heatley, 67, has run The White Bear in St John Street for 17 years with his son Jonathon.
He also lives upstairs, but his landlord didn’t bother to tell him it wanted to shut the Grade-II listed pub for a lengthy stint while it carried out major development.
Instead, he found out this could be his last year dishing out Christmas dinners after his neighbours opened a letter from Islington Council detailing the planned work.
To rub salt in the wound, he then went outside and read about it on a planning notice pinned to a lamppost.
“Someone came in and said: ‘What are you doing with the flats upstairs, then?’” he told the Gazette. “I didn’t know what they were talking about.
“I went through my mail and we had been sent the same letter. They hadn’t told us anything about it. I feel terrible.”
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Lipton Plant Architects has made an application, on behalf of Consulco Capital Real Estate, to refurbish and “reconfigure” the 19th century pub and create four self-contained flats above it.
To do this, a separate entrance would be installed on the ground floor for access to the flats, one of which would replace the kitchen of The White Bear, which as well as being listed is also in the Clerkenwell Green Conservation Area.
If planning permission is granted, Oz will be on the street and The White Bear, one of the last traditional drinking holes in the area, forced to shut.
Jonathon’s wife Sarah Marchant-Heatley has launched a campaign against the plans and is calling on the community to get behind it and write to the council.
“This is another example of ‘outing’ the local businesses and building more homes that are not affordable to the Islington residents,” she said.
“We are the last standing family-run pub in the area. It’s heartbreaking to think this will be our very last Christmas.”
Information on how to support the pub is on its Facebook page. The developers submitted their plans on December 9, giving people until January 5 to have their say.