An appeal hearing was held on Wednesday (February 31st) to hear evidence for and against an appeal by David Fielder against refusal of planning permission for the demolition of the Henry Jenkins and redevelopment of the site with housing.
Mr Fielder contended that Harrogate Borough Council Planning Committee’s decision to refuse his application was wrong because – after being closed for more than seven years – the pub was no longer viable, that the village could not support two pubs and that plans for a community buyout were not supported by the majority of the village. Mr Fielder, who bought the pub in 2012, argued that if the Henry Jenkins was reopened, this would threaten the viability of existing amenities – including the Queens, The Mechanics and Highside Playing Fields. He also claimed that the council’s decision went against Government planning policies requiring priority to be given to new housing.
Richard Sadler, representing the Henry Jenkins Community Co-op, replied that it was Mr Fielder himself who had ensured the pub was not viable: By allowing it to fall into a ramshackle state and stripping the interior of all features, the bar, kitchen, internal walls etc; by rebuffing three prospective purchasers who wanted to buy and refurbish it – and by failing to properly market it as a going concern. He submitted the interim results of a community-wide Opinion Survey showing strong support for the proposed community buyout.
Dave Robinson, who also spoke against the appeal, said that if the buyout succeeded, there would be a greater choice of venues and, in the long term, this should benefit every one – including the Mechanics and local businesses – by encouraging residents and visitors to go out, socialise more and spend their money in the village. He pointed out that up to 100 new houses were now planned for Kirkby, strengthening the case for facilities and services to be put back.
Jan Belton, representing the council, said permission had been refused because there was demonstrable opposition to plans to demolish the pub and that there was a need in the village for a range of services. She reiterated their reasons for refusal, stating that it was not council policy to allow the destruction of a community facility unless a replacement was provided.
Members of the Planning Committee voted unanimously to refuse the application in February last year after receiving more than ninety individual objections and a 150-signature petition. The refusal notice stated: “The proposal would result in the loss of a community facility (public house) thereby reducing the variety of locally based community facilities to the detriment of meeting the present and future social needs and aspirations of this rural community.”
In June the pub was listed as an Asset of Community Value, meaning it cannot be sold as anything other than a pub or other community facility.
A decision on the appeal is expected to be announced next month.
- Mr Fielder told the inspector the sale had been agreed, subject to contract, of part of the pub and car park as a private “flat” – and that if his appeal was refused, this sale would go ahead. He also reported that he was suing Harrogate Borough Council for financial losses incurred by their decision to list the Henry Jenkins as an Asset of Community Value.