The land lady of the much-adored Nag’s Head in Camberwell fears her days at the pub are numbered after building works were approved last month.
The building’s owners, Landlord Camberwell Road Ltd, received planning permission on April 8 to convert the nineteenth century pub’s first floor into flats, and “fill in” its beer garden.
Manager Julie Clifford has said she was given a renewed lease which expires in April 2017. The company say they would like the property to carry on being a public house, but will begin offering her “market rent,” at double the price she is paying now.
“I’ve been given eleven months, and after that I’ll be kicked out and that will be it,” said Julie, 53.
“There’s no way I will be able to afford a higher rent. And if they are building all upstairs the noise will stop people wanting to come in and I would have to find somewhere else to live.
“It’s a terrible shame. This pub is a real community and there’s been such an outpouring from people here. We’re always busy and our customers are very loyal.
“It doesn’t matter when you come in, there’s always at least six old boys who come in when we open at 10am and go home for tea. And if they’re not in we call them up and check on them. For people like that we’re the only social life these guys have, and we’re one of the only proper old pub within walking distance.”
Julie’s time looking after the Nag’s Head has been typified by good will and local support. Her first beer order in 2010 was paid for by locals who chipped in to raise £1,600.
“That was how we started,” said Julie, “and we just went from strength to strength. The pub still does great businesses, and we have just been full every day from Friday to Monday.
“I really don’t know what I’ll do after I lose the pub. I feel too old to just start working for someone else. One barmaid who’s on the books here has five kids. I don’t know what she’ll do either.”
She says her regulars are under no false pretences about the doubtful future of Nag’s Head, whose records date back to 1856.
The page on Southwark Council’s website where the planning application is listed has seen 33 comments from concerned locals all expressing their fears it will close. A petition with nearly 700 signatures has also done the rounds.
“I only ever wanted to run this pub for the people here, and they have all been lovely,” said Julie. “We will have to make sure this final year is the best yet.”
A spokesman for Kyson, an agency working on behalf of Landlord Camberwell Road told the News: “The plans are that the property will remain a public house. The current tenant’s lease came to an end this year and under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Section 30 (1) (f) the landlord had the right to refuse them a new lease. Instead they have granted her a new lease for twelve months at a concessionary rent which is less than 50 per cent of the market rent to afford her time to re-locate.
“Should she wish to re-occupy the property once the works (improvement and extension of the upper parts and extension of the ground floor) are complete, she is welcome to apply for a new tenancy at a market rent.”