The site of a pub that burnt down six years ago will be given a new lease of life as a nursery.

The Jester was badly damaged by fire in 2018 and has remained an “eyesore” ever since.

A Barnet Council planning committee on Monday (May 13) approved plans for a three-storey nursery and two semi-detached houses on the land.

The future of the derelict site, at the junction of Northfield Road and Grove Road, has been a source of debate for six years with previous redevelopment plans refused on the grounds they would result in a loss of community space.

But plans for the nursery, set to be operated by family-run childcare service Happy Journeys Day Nurseries, will provide space for up to 100 children and 27 jobs at the central section of the site.

The two houses are proposed for Northfield Road, next door to the nursery.

Planning officers recommended councillors approve the plans. Although two members of the public were scheduled to speak in objection to the plans, neither showed up.

Officers present at the meeting confirmed the provision of a nursery was defined as a ‘community asset’.

East Barnet councillor Edith David she and fellow Labour ward councillor Simon Radford had worked closely with residents and the council to bring a viable plan forward and emphasised a decision on what to do with the space had been a “long standing” issue.

Cllr David said: “We have looked at other options, turning it back to a pub or using it as a community asset. We do not mind what decision the community decides on this issue, because the main issue is that it’s an eyesore and we are very keen that the best decision is made that reflects the community’s wishes.”

She added her concern that plans could “drag on” and favoured something being done “as soon as possible”. 

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the plans.