Standing beleaguered on its corner in The Burroughs Conservation Area within sight of the Town Hall, where a pub has stood since Tudor Times, is The White Bear. A fine example of Tudoresque marking a new prosperous age when the underground came to Hendon, it has been run down, abused, neglected and insulted by its owner/developer who bought this unfortunate property in a conservation area with the sole purpose of knocking it down and building new flats. But on Tuesday night, just across the road at Barnet Town Hall, The White Bear was pulled back from the brink of extinction by the West Area Planning Sub-Committee. It lives to fight another day.
I was lucky enough to have been at that meeting where conservation and community prevailed and it wasn't all about money.
Supporters of The White Bear: Prof Brad Blitz, Dr Devra Kay, Mike Stokes & David Pixner (Photo: Hendon Times)
Community spirit was strong and bonding, bringing neighbours together in a united fight for their street, their history. The Labour Party supported their campaign and provided a leaflet. The Committee voted across party lines for the retention of The White Bear. The Conservative Chair and a Labour Committee Member both made impassioned speeches against its demolition.
But developers still own The White Bear. Massive bins overflow with rubbish that builds up week after week until once again residents have to ask environmental health to intervene. Who on earth can have left it there? After all, the owner says that the building is vacant. Doesn't he notice the lights on at night, the smoke, the bath water pouring down the outside wall from the broken pipe as he is passing on his way to his home two minutes away? And I expect he will be back in his next desperate bid to knock down an historic icon in a conservation area and replace it with another that promises to get the windows looking almost like neighbouring windows and the chimneys as near as possible to neighbouring chimneys and the materials similar to those of the established adjacent buildings. But haven't they noticed, there's a building already there that exactly fits the bill? It's our White Bear and it lives on.