The owners of the former Yorkshire Lass pub have criticised Harrogate Borough Council after it listed the building as an asset of community value.
Family-run Harrogate-based development firm Graycliffe Homes Ltd said it was hoping to appeal the council’s decision and said the community campaign’s efforts would be better spent supporting existing pubs in the town.
Managing director Andy Butterfield said: “For years it has sat empty and then four months after we have bought it, this happens.
“Where were these 1,500 who signed the petition when the pub needed customers and support? It had to close down as a business. People aren’t supporting what is already out there in the community, there is even a pub just on the other side of the bridge, you don’t need two so close together.”
The Yorkshire Lass was registered as a community asset last week by Harrogate Borough Council following a campaign to ‘save’ the former pub.
Due to the listing, if the building’s owner wants to sell the premises, the local authority must be informed and a six week period given to enable a community interest group to be allowed as a potential bidder.
The listing would be considered as part of any future planning application.
Rachel Auty, who lives on Wedderburn Avenue in Harrogate, launched the campaign to list the building as a community asset. She said: “We completely appreciate the need for progress, and obviously this is a prime plot for a developer with commercial interests. However, this is a landmark building right at the gateway to Knaresborough. If there is any chance of saving and reviving The Yorkshire Lass as a community venue, it should certainly be fully explored.”
In March 2014 a plan to demolish the pub and build a three-storey flat block of 14 apartments was thrown out by the council’s planning committee, which said it would have a detrimental effect on the surrounding green belt.
Mr Butterfield said that Graycliffe Homes, which bought the pub four months ago for around £400,000, were proposing a much smaller development of three apartments and one town house and the company was in talks with Harrogate Borough Council’s planning team.
He added: “We can’t sell it now, it has been blighted by this.”
The former pub has fallen into disrepair over the years and was damaged by fire in 2010 and 2013, with arson suspected on both occasions.
Mr Butterfield said: “It is not structurally safe, it would cost far too much to repair the damage.”
l See letters, pages 28-30