Brewer and pub retailer Greene King have given an assurance that a proposed refurbishment of the Mitre Inn in Barnet High Street will be carried out with the "utmost respect" for an historic 17th century coaching inn.
Plans for investing “a significant sum of money” in the pub are currently being finalised and the company insists any changes will be “sympathetic to the cultural heritage of this Grade II listed building”.
One possible alteration is to move the pub’s front door from the side to the centre of the frontage, which was its original position.
Chief executive officer Nick Mackenzie gave the reassurance in a letter to the Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers who intervened at the request of the Barnet Society in view of concerns that during the alterations, Greene King might remove or damage parts of the building that date back to the 14th century.
Ms Villiers told Greene King that local historians believe that internal timbers in the Mitre probably date from the 14th century and are likely to be similar to the timbers discovered in the medieval roof of a shop two doors away.
The fear was that internal walls and supports in the Mitre might be removed and replaced with steel supports.
“I think it would be unacceptable to remove parts of the building which date from the 14th century.
“The Mitre is Barnet’s oldest public house and a famous North London real ale pub. I am deeply concerned about any loss of important heritage assets.”
Ms Villiers urged the Barnet Society and the rest of the community to “keep a close eye” on any alterations to the structure or fabric of the pub.
Mr Mackenzie outlined Greene King's intentions: "We have owned the pub since 2015, but following the departure of the pub's previous tenant (Gary Murphy) last year, we chose to bring it into our managed pubs estate. We intend to run the business ourselves and ensure it continues thriving for years to come.
"It will sit within Greene King’s portfolio of heritage pubs which includes other famous and iconic London hostelries such as The George in Southwark, The Anchor Bankside, The Sherlock Holmes in St James, The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping and The Punch and Judy in Covent Garden."
In his letter to Ms Villiers, Mr Mackenzie insisted that any changes to their heritage pubs would only be undertaken with the intention of enhancing the building’s original character.
“As such, I would like to reassure you that there are no plans to rip out any sections of the building dating back to the 14th century or to do anything that is not sympathetic to its cultural heritage.
“We are still finalising our plans and while it is understandable that some people can get anxious when there is discussion about investing in a historic building, equally it would not be right for us to leave the pub without investment, so it starts to deteriorate over time, which is why we are investing a significant sum of money in the pub.”