Staff at Compton Arms ‘totally overwhelmed’ by messages of support as they prepare for licence review prompted by neighbours’ complaints

Compton Arms, Islington, London

Compton Arms. Photograph: Vicki Couchman

Drinkers at a watering hole used by George Orwell as a blueprint for his perfect pub are wondering if last orders could be brought forward.

Some neighbours complained about noise outside the historic Compton Arms – triggering a licence review which means the licence could be revoked, suspended for up to three months or changed.

They called for the review on the “basis of public nuisance due to excessive noise, and to a lesser extent public safety when residents address outside drinkers for intrusion on their property and hostility is the response”.

The four residents added: “Outside drinking blocks the public highway forcing pedestrians which include children the elderly and disabled persons to move into the road. This increases the risk to them.”

They complained about open windows and doors and drinkers using the narrow pavement and residents’s steps. When they ask drinkers to move from their property, residents said they can be met with “aggression”.

Islington’s licensing committee is set to hear from both sides at a hearing next Wednesday.

They have received comments from 2,178 people in support of the pub and staff said they have been “totally overwhelmed by the levels and content” of the messages.

In a post on Instagram, they said the comments “have been a massive shot in the arm”.

Councillors will also look at a dossier from the complainants, including video and WhatsApp messages.

George Orwell used the Canonbury pub, along with two others in the area, as his model for the “perfect pub” he called the Moon Under Water in a newspaper article in 1946.

He praised pubs down back streets where drinkers could have a conversation and the pub’s sign pays tribute to his praise.

According to a Town Hall report, licensing officers have logged complaints “on a relatively regular basis” since 2019 and there was a complaint in 2021 about “a significant” number of people and nuisance after an Arsenal home match in September 2021.

The managers agreed to extra measures on matchdays and to manage the area outside the pub.

They also drew up “Compton House Rules”, which include closing outside drinking at 9pm, door staff “to monitor door ‘activity’ (opening & closing), people outside – and the unauthorised use of the residential steps of your property opposite” and managed exit.

“We will continue to manage noise levels as best we can while people filter out and home,” the pub said.

In papers lodged with the council, the four neighbours said: “We are not seeking changes that would penalize the licensee nor stop him from making a living, but wish to return to the quiet enjoyment of our residential area which was present for over 40 years.”

They said they do not want the opening hours changed but want off-sales banned, the garden closed at 8pm and want security at busy times to monitor drinkers outside.

In a post on Instagram the pub urged supporters to attend the hearing

Licensee Nick Stephens previously posted “how infuriating and frustrating” the allegations about the pub were and said the managers have “worked their socks off to run the pub considerately (and exceptionally)”.