Pizza Express Kentish Town: set to close on May 28?

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32SharesKentish Town’s Pizza Express, set in the iconic former North London Polytechnic building at the junction with Prince Of Wales …

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A graffitied artist's impression of how Pizza Express might look converted into flats.
A graffitied artist’s impression of how the developers intended to transform the building back in 2011.

Kentish Town’s Pizza Express, set in the iconic former North London Polytechnic building at the junction with Prince Of Wales Road, is to close on May 28.

Our mole says: “no one knows what is happening after that. I have heard that the freeholder wants the place empty”. Cripes.

The iconic former polytechnic building as it is now.
The iconic former polytechnic building as it is now.
As most Kentishtowners know, the building, which has housed the mid-market Italian chain since the 90s, has resisted numerous attempts by developers intent on creating flats.

At the start of last year, we reported that the residents’ appeal had been successful for the second time, with the planning inspector throwing out the developers’ evil scheme, which marked the end of five-year battle.

But now this. So what on earth’s going on now?

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  • Bart Bart Bart

    Word is they are moving camden planning office here…apparently it will cut their travel budget in half and save valuable time travelling to and from the site.

  • Jason R

    Last time I ate in there over a year ago it looked like an absolute dump. Enormous long cracks in ceiling and walls, yellowing off colour paintwork, it was a grim eating experience and I swore never to return. FYI, I was there for the first year of my Humanities degree before it closed, the vaulted ceiling and mezzanine was in fact the library, and the lower part was my old student union bar!!

    • Sue

      It’s not the fact that the Pizza Express restaurant is closing, it’s the massive worry that the developers will once again try to push through their disgusting plans to demolish this attractive building. The building is the gateway to Prince of Wales Road and is in perfect proportion with neighbouring and adjacent buildings. Millions was spent restoring the Kentish Town Baths – that building looks fabulous – and the run of red brick flats along Prince of Wales Toad is gorgeous. Us Kentish Towners just CANNOT allow developers to destroy the ‘Pizza Express’ facade.

  • Amon

    Know that one of the co freeholders, co owns the princes park development next to camden brewery and an estate agency in hampstead. Could become their Kentish Town branch

  • ellen (@nellefant)

    This makes me sad. Sure, it’s a Pizza Express with all the mediocrity that entails, but it must be one of the most lovely Pizza Express sites in London. In some ways it was nice to have a chain like this in KT rather than having to go further afield, we especially liked the guarantee of getting a table as it’s so big!

    Incidentally, when it was still a college my mum studied here while living/working in NE London, so we’ll always feel affection for this building on our family.

  • Brian

    Amon, are you sure about the ownership? I haven’t done a Land Registry search which should tell us. On Prince’s Park which I think I am up to speed on, it is owned by Cornwall Overseas Developments Ltd, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Cornwall has been 100% owned for the last few years by Findon Urban Lofts Ltd, a UK company beneficially owned by the Laznik family of Israel partly through Cyprus.

    Prince’s Park flats are being marketed by Union Developments which is just a brand. Its web site revamped as of a few weeks ago, contains no address or names of its components but it is using a show room at 158 Prince of Wales Road where the only company mentioned is Greene & Co, the estate agents whose reputation one might think would hardly be enhanced by being associated with Prince’s Park.

    Until Union Developments recent website change, it showed Union as consisting of Assaf and Yonathan Laznik of Findon, David Pollack and Marc Meltzer of Green & co and Harry Handelsman of Manhatten Loft Corporation. H Handelsman put out a press release a year ago saying he had no commercial interest in Prince’s Park and when I spoke to him a couple of months ago, he said he no longer was involved in any way with Union.


    • Amon

      Brian, I was purely speculating about a Kentish Town branch even though I did hear a rumour a couple of years ago given that the freeholders were struggling to turn pizza express into residential. Have heard from several people the connection between the three companies and the new development at 158 Prince of Wales Rd which used to be Findon’s offices.

  • Coffeehead

    Developers are in business to make money. The simple fact is that knocking something down and rebuilding allows developers a massive saving on VAT. I can’t say they’d all plan better, but if the government changed the tax laws slightly, there’d be a better chance of developers using existing facades.

  • the beat experience

    The last time I had a Pizza Express lunch in this building was on a weekend and it was almost completely empty. We were wondering how it could stay open with no punters?!

    The space is huge and it’s a big shame that it may be used for a relatively boring Camden council site. Hardly interesting or original, but neither was Pizza Express. I’d rather a Waitrose in fact…

    But the space would be PERFECT for a cinema. One could convert the ground floor into a bar and have 2 screening rooms – one on the ground floor and the other on the upper level.

    I have no idea why no cinema chain let along an independent style cinema has thought of the idea. Dear oh dear.

    • Kentishtowner

      We agree. We’ve often talked about the space as being perfect for a cinema.

      • Robi

        Wow, that would be amazing. There used to 6 around the Kentish town area, one of which is directly opposite the Pizza Express on Pribce of Wales rd

  • Mark

    The KT branch of Pizza Express was their biggest loss making branch. I would say that the lease has come to an end and they are cutting their losses.

  • Brian

    There are lots of places where you can get as good a meal but where else in the area can you find for large family or office parties? If it goes, it will be missed for that alone


  • Tim

    Hang on a second – if Camden move some of their offices there then that will bring more employees in to the area, increasing trade for local businesses. AND save the Council money, which means more money for schemes that need support, like a cinema, or our library or other essential services. Surely that’s better for everyone than an arts cinema?

  • Sandra Dystant

    A cinema would be right for this site. No more flats and certainly not the ugly example you showed yesterday! Let’s have a cinema.

  • Bart Bart Bart

    Sorry to confuse – the council planning office statement was a joke relating to the number of threats to the site over the last few years and probable number of visits by council planning officers…cinema all the way for me…

  • Sally

    Cinema, cinema, cinema!!!!! No more flats, we have enough of those. Does anyone know if they have permission to change the use to residential?

  • geoffram

    Interesting Sally should say “flats, flats, flats, we have enough of those” when they’re a huge shortage of accommodation in London. However, having said that, the proposed development as shown on the mock-up looks ghastly and is totally out of keeping with the frontage. I don’t think this particular branch of Pizza Express has ever done well; it’s almost as if their time in the suburbs is coming to a close. The cavernous West Hampstead branch, packed to the gills when it first opened is rarely full these days. I, too, went to the Kentish Town branch a few weeks ago and it was deserted, whereas a mile up the road at Pizza East…
    I’m not sure the cinema is a going proposition, either. It’s all very well some of your readers saying: ‘this is just what the area needs. I’d go’, but would enough people go? The huge costs of sustaining a cinema might just rule out that possibility.
    So, let’s not shed a tear over the demise of Pizza Express. Let’s just hope someone just moves in to replace them without expanding the footprint.

  • Natalia S

    Would love it for it to be an independent cinema like The Screen on the Hill etc ? that would be wonderful…….

  • Jana M

    Definitely don’t want the old Pizza Express in KT to be turned into flats!!! Especially if they might end up looking like the artist’s impression above!! There is nothing pleasing about it what so ever!!
    I love the cinema idea, although a Waitrose or M&S Food would be wonderful!! (not that we need anymore supermarkets on our high street really, but I think there’s definitely a need for a higher-end supermarket like these!). Waitrose often take on leases in slightly obscure properties like this one and seem to keep the integrity of the building in tact by making a feature of the unique attributes rather than completely ripping them out and replacing them with soul-less ‘modern’ generic building styles.
    I would be delighted if this were to happen. But if it doesn’t, I hope whoever takes it on will provide all Kentish Towner’s with something we can all use and value in a way that’s sympathetic to the building’s style and history.

  • Sabby Sagall(Mr.)

    Both the exterior and the interior are, I believe, rare examples in London of the late twenties art deco style. We therefore need to preserve both as part of the architectural heritage of Camden. The interior is certainly unique and any redevelopment plans which destroy its essential character must be vigorously resisted. Private flats would, therefore, be the worst option, though a cinema might work. Ideally, Camden Council should take it over and use it for community projects – art exhibitions, concerts, theatre shows.

  • Gary Wright

    I was a student there myself bewteen 1981 and 1984 and loved it. I was one of the students who ‘Sat in’ during the Patrick Harrington affair way back then. Surely if the Kentish Town area is like every other area of london, short of school places, couldn’t it be returned to it’s original use as a place of education? Even a Free School could be housed there.