* UPDATE 061116: Last-minute bid to save pub
FEW PEOPLE would mourn the closing of the Acorn. It is the kind of pub that even at the peak of the immigration of millennials into Hackney made no attempt to boost its custom by attracting hipsters.
At times over the last few years its exterior looked so forbidding that passers-by thought it had closed.
The interior seems to be hung over from the 1980s if not the 1970s.
The probably unintentional lack of wider appeal is because it is simply a local, a centre for the people of the housing estates around the Haggerston end of Queensbridge and Whiston roads to congregate in, to moan about the usual things and to relax with a drink.
They instinctively know they have little in common with the middle-class youngsters — media types, rising City stars, estate agents, career musicians — that sort of person. The Acorn is a working-class pub.
It is unlikely to be theirs for much longer. The worth of the land, close to a heritage swimming-pool complex, the increasingly busy Regent’s Canal and the enchanting Haggerston Park, has been assessed as being greater than its worth as a local centre.
So an application has been made to Hackney council for demolition of the pub and the erection of a seven-floor block of flats. If the owner gets it up soon, bank loans for the development can be repaid and a quick profit turned. Another blow for a tiny community.
Camra national chairman Colin Valentine often hears of such blows. He told Loving Dalston: “Pubs are vital to community life and research has shown their benefit to our well-being and happiness, which is why Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) has worked so hard to secure asset of community value (ACV) listings for as many pubs as possible.
“It has become evident, however, that ACV listings are not enough to give pubs the protection they deserve from closure, or acquisition and demolition or redevelopment by investors.
“Communities are not getting enough of a say in the process when the pubs they treasure are threatened by closure or change of use.
“Permitted development rights create loopholes that are too often exploited by property developers riding roughshod over the spirit of planning laws.
“Camra is campaigning for planning rules to be strengthened so that full planning permission is required before a pub can be demolished or converted to another use.”
Hackney will be one of the London councils looking carefully at the move.
David Altheer 120916
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