Beloved community London Colney pub under threat

Former business partner at The White Horse Simon Niemiec demands answers from the brewery after closure.

Former business partner at The White Horse Simon Niemiec demands answers from the brewery after closure. - Credit: Archant

The former landlord of a landmark London Colney pub is demanding answers as to why it remains closed. 

Simon Niemiec and Mev Madoorapen were served notice on the White Horse after ten years towards the end of 2021 but reassured the community that it would remain a pub, as that is what they had been led to believe by brewery Punch Taverns.

But now, months after it closed its doors, the pub remains shuttered, with no signs of reopening in the immediate future.

Simon said: "The people of London Colney are rightly concerned that their community pub is at risk of being turned completely into housing, especially given the fact that Punch have applied for planning approval for four flats to be built in the car park at the back of the pub.

"My interest in this pub should’ve stopped the day I left, however I live in the village, I’ve lived here all my life, I’ve run a business here for 10 years, I still care, and I care about our local amenities and what would happen. I’ve seen the Kings Head, the White Lion and most recently the Golden Lion all close and be converted to housing. London Colney needs this pub, it needs to know it though."

Earlier this month a planning application was received by St Albans district council (SADC) for the provision of four flats in the pub car park, with access from Morris Way, associated parking and landscaping. But it also included the retention of existing public house and garden.

Many residents now fear the development of the car park is the first step towards the whole site being transformed for housing.

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Cllr 'Dreda Gordon of North West London Colney ward said: "This is a further cynical move by the big breweries to rob London Colney of another one of our local pubs. They plan to capitalise on high property prices and the lack of a Local Plan and use the White Horse site to squeeze even more residential properties onto London Colney High Street, the same fate as the Kings Head and Golden Lion. 

"Local people were led to believe that the White Horse had closed temporarily for a refurb and they were really looking forward to the pub opening up again after its revamp so this news has come as a bitter blow. 

"London Colney Parish Council will be applying to SADC to register the White Horse as an 'Asset of Community Value' to afford the site some protection and I would urge everyone to sign the petition to retain the White Horse as a pub, a meeting place in the heart of our village."

Neighbours have also objected to the plans.

Sian Riches of Morris Way said: "The pub does not have enough parking spaces for the clientele currently especially given the poor parking for the shops nearby as well. Removal of more parking spaces to build flats is irresponsible for the safety of the local area. Parking and driving is already dangerous in this area so removing space can only make it worse."

High Street resident Jade Heywood asked: "How will there be enough parking for a pub plus four flats? There's isn't enough for the pub when it is open. And the high street in front of the pub is already full of parked cars. And what about privacy? All the houses behind the pub will be overlooked."

Ann Swann from Seaton Road said the application was the first step towards completely redeveloping the site which is not what is needed in the village.

"We need to keep amenities within the central areas of the village and not more housing. It is a long established site that would not work with housing situated so close to the public house and would detract from using the external areas of the pub fully. You can just see the noise complaints and issues that would be brought up and then lead to full closure (if they ever even open) of the pub and so more housing could then be put on the site.

"We are a village and every amenity we lose makes us less of a community and more a dormitory place where people just come to to sleep... the village it too big to only have two small pubs away from the main area."

Punch Taverns have been approached for a statement.