National Park backs campaign to protect historic North Yorkshire pub

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The body charged with managing a national park and aiding its communities has overwhelmingly backed a campaign by residents to protect the premises of a historic pub, despite being told it was “very unlikely” the inn could be brought back into use.

The North York Moors National Park Authority’s recommendation to reject the conversion of the 239-year-old Plough Inn, at Fadmoor, into four holiday cottages and two local occupancy rental homes comes despite the authority’s planning officers advising it would be wrong to continue to block alternative uses of the building.

The authority’s recommendation will be made to the Planning Inspectorate, which will decide upon the scheme in the coming months after the former pub’s owner, internet tycoon Peter Wilkinson, appealed against the length of time it had taken the park authority to consider his application.

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The inspectorate’s appeal hearing will follow a decade-long struggle over the premises centring around Mr Wilkinson’s insistence that the pub is no longer viable and residents’ claims that it could thrive as a community inn.

The Plough at Fadmoor - is it set for a renewed lease of life?The Plough at Fadmoor - is it set for a renewed lease of life?
The Plough at Fadmoor - is it set for a renewed lease of life?

The meeting heard a viability study of reopening the premises as a pub had concluded the building had fallen into “an extraordinarily poor state of repair” since closing in 2011 and the revamp would cost a similar amount to the cost of buying the premises.

Members were told the assessment found the pub would be unlikely to be viable unless it was owner managed, had an exceptional food offer and drew customers from far and wide.

Officers concluded it would be “very unlikely” the pub could succeed in the current economic climate and the proposed holiday cottages and local occupancy homes would contribute towards the local economy.

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The meeting was also told Ryedale District Council was still considering using its Compulsory Purchase Order powers on the building, but that situation had not changed in about five years.

However, members said they believed the pub could be successful, that a Compulsory Purchase Order was a possibility and it would be premature to approve Mr Wilkinson’s redevelopment plans.

Jim Bailey, the authority’s chairman, said a pub was part of the character of Fadmoor.

Another member, Janet Frank, a former publican, said: “If the pub’s gone, the heart of the village is gone.

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The people who say they’d like this change of use are from Knaresborough and Harrogate.

"We can protect our residents and give them back the hub of their village.”

The authority’s deputy chairman Malcolm Bowes also questioned the viability study and highlighted the enduring local enthusiasm for retaining the building as a pub, despite it having been close for a decade.

He said his sympathies were with the community.

Mr Bowes said: “It still is an asset. It can be an asset.”

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