At a meeting held on Thursday evening at The Driver Bar and Restaurant on Caledonian and Wharfdale Roads, the pub's owner Billy Reilly told a group of about 15 local residents about his plans to improve the offerings at his establishment and dramatically modify the outside of building.
The pub itself will remain on the ground floor with some slight modifications while a new restaurant will be added to the 1st floor. The 2nd and 3rd floors will also be renovated and turned into smaller and more intimate bar/lounges. Entry to the restaurant and upper floors will be via a new separate entrance on Killick Street. Capacity to the upper floors will be approximately 100 people/floor (to be determined by the Council). Contrary to some reports we were told that there will be no outside space created.
Mr. Reilly spoke of dramatic changes to the appearance of the outside of the building. He indicated that has commissioned the well-known, French, landscape artist Patrick Blanc (confirmed by one local gardening expert) to construct vertical hanging gardens over the outside of the entire building. Blanc's work is highly regarded in landscape design circles and it is Reilly's hope to establish the building as a "destination location" as a result of the changes proposed. It is not clear whether or not new planning permissions will be required for these modification as this past September an extension of a previous Change of Use was approved by the Council. Watch this space for more information.
Lastly, the group was told that there would be no modification to the current entertainment licensed hours which we believe run until 4 AM on Friday and Saturday night and 2 AM most other nights.
Mr. Reilly who also owns several of the clubs in the Good's Way Yards – The Cross, The Key, and Canvas, as well as Pasha in Victoria, made a special effort to assure local residents that The Driver was not going to be turned into another large club-like venue. He hopes to continue in the pub tradition, creating a respected venue for local residents and business people. Only time will tell.
Fast forward to June 2009, The Driver has now reopened with it's new facade and interior. Check out their website for the latest information – www.driverlondon.co.uk