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Camden New Journal - FORUM: Opinion in the CNJ
Published: 27 March 2008

Another part of Camden under threat: the Crown & Goose
Killing the Goose that Crowned Camden is a simple case of greed

Unless we step in to stop the developers’ march to mediocrity, Camden’s character will soon be lost, writes Jake Sumner

IF the stocks were still available to parade the shamed faces of villains, then I can think of no better candidates than the “developers” wanting to knock down the Crown & Goose and the planning inspector who said they can.
What is it about Camden Town at the mom­ent? Its constituent parts being destroyed at every turn.
For those who haven’t sampled the Crown & Goose, it’s a neighbourhood pub on the corner of Delancey Street and Arlington Road.
Often cited as Camden’s best watering hole, you enter a welcoming ambience when pushing open the heavy wooden door. Inside has a French touch, the wines and drinks selection is good, menu tasty, lighting subtle and music spot on.
It is a tiny pub yet fits in a wide-ranging clientele from young to old. Few pubs pull this off.
I first went there aged 19 and am still going back 16 years later – only recently a friend had her engagement party there.
This is clearly a personal account, but is in fact a view shared by many. There are the pub’s more famous patrons such as Suggs and Chas from Madness, but the local community who use their pub are among its strongest supporters. This community, backed by among others, MP Frank Dobson, and councillors like Pat Callaghan, has campaigned for years against the bulldozing by developers of the pub and next door snooker hall.
The battle began in 2003. Camden planners threw out the proposals, so did the planning inspector on the appeal.
In 2005 an amended application made it to Camden’s planning committee. A huge crowd came to back their local and the snooker hall.
Support of this kind for a pub is almost unheard of and shows what a gem it is.
As the then vice-chair of planning and councillor representing Camden Town, I listened carefully to the case put by Russell Grant, who represented residents and conservationists alike.
There were very good reasons to turn down the application.
I firmly argued this and the committee unanimously agreed. Again, it went to appeal and was turned down, though on more limited grounds.
In 2007 the application was submitted a third time. Planners turned it down, though it seemed that new planning policies meant the rejection case was stronger on the loss of the snooker hall; and the Crown & Goose building was cited as making a positive contribution in the new Camden Town Conservation Area Statement. However, on February 29 2008 the axe fell.
This time the inspector upheld the appeal.
Sadly this battle shows how cumbersome planning processes are in reaching the best outcome – which must be to retain the pub.
However, the finger must be pointed at the developers. Roger Sharpley, who represents them, was quoted in the New Journal last week as saying the venue was “ripe for development”. What nonsense.
Who benefits from its demolition? What good does it serve to replace the Goose & Crown that sits well in the setting, including the listed Tramshed, with one that will be worse?
What good does it do to lose the snooker hall?
And the crux – what good will it do to knock down a fantastic pub and put in its place a vapid, bigger offering? (The plans increase the floor space.) You can see it now. The site is off the beaten track so when the new restaurant or café opens it could fail and change hands regularly. Perhaps a chain steps in and then where are we?
What utter madness.
Camden is a unique place, with hidden charms. This is why I choose to live here.
But these charms are being lost. The march of mediocrity is sweeping all before.
Greedy fingers are trying to snatch as much from the supposed Camden cash cow. But soon there won’t be anything left to milk.
And you know who will be to blame.

* Jake Sumner is a former Labour councillor for Camden Town with Primrose Hill ward and vice-chair of planning

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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