Councillors have refused a plan to convert an outbuilding on the Henry Jenkins Inn site at Kirkby Malzeard.
Campaigners breathed a sigh of relief after the meeting and claimed the application was designed to shatter their hopes of ever reopening the former pub, which dates back to the 18th century but has been closed since 2011.
North Yorkshire Council’s Skipton and Ripon’s planning committee met yesterday in Ripon to consider an application to convert a building next to the former pub into one holiday cottage.
However, there has been a dispute over whether the building was ever used by the pub, with pub owner David Fielder arguing it was instead used as a piggery for livestock.
Crucially, the application also includes a large grassy space behind the former pub which would be used as a car park for the holiday cottage.
But campaigners insisted this would mean any future pub would be unable to accept beer deliveries or hold any outdoor community events, leaving it unviable.
The Henry Jenkins Community Pub group has hopes of taking over the pub as a community-owned venue and has been locked in a bitter battle with Mr Fielder over the building’s future for several years.
The group has raised £220,000 in shares from local people and in September was awarded £330,000 grant from government to help them achieve their dream.
Mr Sadler told councillors the campaign to buy the pub is now at a “critical point” and the application to convert the outbuilding was a “tactic to scupper our plans”.
“How can anyone expect a pub to survive when it can’t get vehicles in for deliveries? It would be very hard to see how it can be viable again. That is the purpose of this application.”
David Fielder, who owns and operates several pubs in Yorkshire, bought the pub after it closed and has had several attempts to convert it into housing refused by Harrogate Borough Council.
A government inspector dismissed an appeal earlier this year and stated that running the pub as a community-run project was financially viable.
At the meeting yesterday, Mr Fielder rejected Mr Sadler’s claim that the outbuilding conversion was to harm the viability of the pub, thus making it easier to convert into housing.
He also insisted the outbuilding was used for pigs and historically has been unrelated to the pub. He added:
“The building doesn’t even have pedestrian doors, how could they possibly be used [by the pub]? They had pig traps in them.”
However, councillors were unconvinced by the merits of the application and refused it by three votes to one, with one abstention.
Andy Brown, Green Party councillor for Aire Valley said:
“If you have this as a holiday cottage there is no right remaining for delivery access and insufficient space for all the things planned for the community pub.
“If all they had was a vague idea [to reopen the pub] I’d be saying ‘forget it mush’ — but they’ve got £220,000 in pledges and government funding”.
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