This from the Islington Gazette, 19 March 2018, by Sam Gelder
A stand off over the redevelopment of a historic Archway pub could finally end – after six years of it lying empty. The Whittington and Cat in Highgate Hill was saved from demolition in 2012 when it was made an asset of community value (ACV) by Islington Council during a crusade to protect its pubs. But the owners, who had wanted to convert it into six flats but retain the Victorian facade, closed it anyway, saying it wasn’t making any money. An appeal was dismissed, as was another application last year that would have seen the ground floor used for commercial purposes.
Planners said there was a lack of evidence the building had been on the market for two years continuously and therefore the applicants could not show there was “no realistic prospect” of it being used as a pub in the foreseeable future, as required by the council. But now planners look to have admitted defeat in their bid to protect the The Whittington & Cat, which has stood since the late 1800s and is named after Dick Whittington – who is said to have been on Highgate Hill when he heard the Bow Bells call him back to London.
A fresh application to turn the pub into an offices or retail space has been earmarked for approval. Officers said in their report: “The historic and communal significance of the property, as a pub, at present does not add vitality or vibrancy. “Based on the lack of demand and without the realistic prospect of the public house coming back into use and given the number of years the site has been vacant, it is not considered justified to withhold planning permission in this case. Consideration is also given the limited historical value, the neutral impact the change of use would have on the area and the appropriate nature of the uses proposed, which are considered to enliven the street and bring the premises back into active use.”
A decision will be made by councillors on Tuesday next week (27/3/18).
Thanks to community support, the Whittington & Cat pub on Highgate Hill has been designated a community asset, the first in Islington. This means that if the owner sells it the community has six months in which to raise the funds to buy it. An application to demolish all but the façade and build bedsits was made. Islington refused, the scheme went to appeal and has now been rejected by the planning inspector.