New owners to re-open pub where The Housemartins filmed Happy Hour

A new 'food-led' bar is set to operate at The Star in St John's Wood

Friday, 3rd March 2017 — By Tom Foot

Star House Martins pub

The Star pub in St John’s Wood Terrace

A PUB that controversially closed and reopened as an estate agents is due to be brought back to its original use.

Fans for “hugely popular” Star pub in St John’s Wood Terrace, were devastated when it shut down in March last year.

The pub, which had been listed as an ACV asset of community value before its closure, had a solid base of loyal regulars but it had also been frequented by superstars including McCartney, Dustin Hoffman and Liam Gallagher. It was the setting for The Housemartins’ 1986 pop song hit Happy Hour and also appeared in a recent Arctic Monkeys’ music video.

New owner, Hussein Aziz from DrunchSW3 Limited, said the new venue would be a “food-led offering with a heavy element of wet sales”.

He added: “We love St John’s Wood. I love the village feel of an area. I live in Wimbledon and that has a lovely village feel too. But I feel St John’s Wood has a very limited food offering. Wimbledon has 28 restaurants in it and St John’s Wood has no more than 11. I feel something there can be something more.”

The pub shut down after being taken over by new owners West End Investments Limited, part of the Marcus Cooper Group, and appeared to reopen as an estate agents known as Champion Estates. But this use was not accepted by Westminster Council, who declined to grant a lawful use certificate.

During a public inquiry last year former leaseholder Gray Champion, who ran the business, revealed he had faced “acts of intimidation” while in the property including raw fish being stuffed through his letterbox (see below) and tomatoes being pelted at the windows. Staff had left fearing for their safety, he told the inquiry.

His appeal was thrown out by a planning inspector, which meant that the estate agents had to leave as only a pub use was lawful.

A new licence has now been granted to DrunchSW3 Ltd triggering mixed reactions.

One supporter of the plans said: “I am delighted to see an application for a new premises licence for The Star public house. It was a travesty that the pub was shuttered in the first place; the neighbourhood lost a well-managed, friendly, pub in an area where there are very few evening options for community social life.”

He added: “I live within 30 yards of The Star, and will be very happy to see it come back to life. I strongly urge appro­val of the application.”

One objector raised concerns about potential noise issues.

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