The Queensbury: A mythbuster

In this piece we look at some of the serious, outlandish and plainly bizarre myths that have sprung up since Fairview Homes bought the land and The Queensbury pub.

Myth
Fairview Homes own the land and the building and can demolish / build what they want.
Reality
Planning permission is required to change from “drinking establishment” to “residential” use, which is a matter for Brent Council’s planning committee and not Fairview’s decision.

Myth
The building cannot be demolished because it’s in a conservation area.
Reality
Permission is required but that does not mean it cannot be demolished.

Myth
The pub has a short lease and will close soon.
Reality
The pub has a 10 year lease, with 4 still to run. The pub has gone on record to clear this up here.

Myth
A pub on this site is not viable.
Reality
Fairview Homes were asked to substantiate these claims but have not. Actually the pub is thriving, as would be expected from any pub in such a prime location. The pub owners have gone on record to refute this myth here.

Myth
The building is old and will fall down soon.
Reality
The building is consistent with others in the conservation area and will stand for years if maintained properly. It is also used other than as a pub (an office is let to another tenant).

Myth
Fairview carried out a comprehensive consultation with the community and residents are supportive of their plans.
Reality
Fairview’s own Planning Statement claims community support. But Fairview (by their own admission) did not consult those who use the pub, either via Busy Rascals activity or pub goers. They did write to some local residents but in those letters, did not mention that The Queensbury would be demolished as part of their scheme. In fact they didn’t mention the pub at all. Fairview have so far refused to release the contents of the 22 comments received during their “consultation”.

Myth
The pub has debts and are looking to quit their lease with Fairview Homes to clear them.
Reality
The holding company of The Queensbury (London Gastropubs Ltd) has a historic debt listed at Companies House. To say they are looking for a way out via a deal with Fairview Homes is a big leap. The pub owners have gone on record to refute this here. (A holding company’s level of debt is not an indication of profit and loss).

Myth
The lease between the landowner (Fairview Homes) and the pub (The Queensbury) are not planning matters.
Reality
Details of the lease are their business and are not our concern. But retention of a pub on this site, be it the Queensbury or another pub, is most definitely a planning matter.

Myth
The Busy Rascals toddler group has been offered a new venue by Fairview Homes.
Reality
No alternative space has been offered to Busy Rascals and they are very happy where they are.

Myth
Brent needs more houses – 56 in this scheme would help.
Reality
Brent needs Affordable, Social and large houses for families on their waiting list. Only 4 of the 56 meet these criteria (and could easily be built at the side and rear of the existing building).

Myth
If the pub closes, the deli will close too.
Reality
The sustainability of the deli would be seriously threatened because 1) they share management costs and 2) produce from the Deli is sold in the pub during Busy Rascals activities six mornings a week.

Myth
Fairview are asking for a 10 storey building knowing that they’ll end up with 4 or 5 storeys instead.
Reality
Whether it’s 4, 5 or 10 the pub will still go!

Myth
Foxtons/Cameron Stiff have signed a deal to sell the flats, once built.
Reality
Without permission to change use, there are no flats to agree to sell!

Myth
A replacement pub is not possible in a new development.
Reality
Not true. There are plenty of pubs with residential above. Developers tend not to like pubs at the foot of their apartments because it limits their potential for profit.

Myth
If considered an Asset of Community Value the pub cannot be demolished.
Reality
The reality is that the legislation does not mean ACV status overrides everything else. Planning processes have to be followed but national guidance suggests that ACV status should be a consideration. We are expecting a decision on the building being an ACV in June 2013.

Myth
Save The Queensbury is run / funded / driven by the pub.
Reality
Pretty insulting and wholly untrue. The campaign has spent less than £150 to date, on a website and leaflets and has been funded by community donations. Planning advice, legal advice, petitioning and political lobbying has been carried out for free by members of the community. The pub owners and managers do not attend our meetings nor have any input into them. The only support from the pub has been a petition on the bar and use of a table to hold our meetings (those attending even pay for their own drinks!)