The Compton Arms pub in Islington is under threat from the NIMBY license review
A pub with deep roots in Islington is under threat of possible closure, due to the opinions of four local residents. The Compton Arms, which is variously an N1 local; an Arsenal fan’s matchday hideaway; and a destination for exciting culinary residencies, has its license reviewed by Islington Council. If the review significantly alters the pub’s ability to operate, then “this famous historic pub will no longer be financially viable for us, or any other responsible operator”, according to owner Nick Stephens.
The pub announced details of the review on Instagram, describing the pressure from the four complainants as “maddening and frustrating”. Stephens says that “Our managers, Esther and Nikki, went to extreme lengths for these guys, under duress, and worked hard to run the pub considerately (and exceptionally) – despite some more than difficult behaviour. “
The scale of the complaints has already forced the pub to temporarily remove its television screens, which are usually used to show football matches, particularly those of Arsenal, and thus attract fans and revenue on matchdays. Stephens has yet to respond to a request for comment on the exact nature of the complaints, but wrote on Instagram that they covered being “a public nuisance…a health hazard…mishandled… . [and] That I am a licensee without interest to communicate.
The building has been a pub for over 200 years and is famous for being the one George Orwell referred to when he dreamed up his own idealized locale, The Moon Under Water. Residents’ complaints are therefore contingent on choosing to live next to a pub knowing it was a pub, leading to harsh accusations of NIMBYism in comments on the posting of the pub and elsewhere online. The current kitchen residence is Belly, run by Reece Moore and James Thorneycroft; it follows the success of Four Legacy by Ed McIlroy and Jamie Allan, who went on to open his own pub, The Plimsoll, in Finsbury Park.
The deadline to submit comments regarding the review is today, Tuesday, August 23, and a licensing hearing will follow. Although the permanent shutdown occasioned by the withdrawal of the license is extremely unlikely, any strict changes to trading hours or other parameters could prevent Compton Arms, as Stephens puts it, from remaining financially viable.