More than 500 people have signed a petition calling for a York pub to be saved from demolition.

City of York Council planners condemned the 19th century Carlton Tavern on Acomb Road to be knocked down and replaced with a modern care home in October.

But they agreed to a re-vote after residents questioned the way the evidence was presented to the committee.

That will take place at the planning committee on December 13. And with 530 people signing a Victorian Society petition calling for it to be saved, adding to the hundreds who have already objected, councillors can be in no doubt as to the strength of public feeling.

Community plan

Local people at a meeting at the Carlton Tavern to protest against its closure

Campaigners are convinced the Carlton Tavern has a viable future.

A scheme has been drawn up to transform the pub into a community hub incorporating holiday lets and accommodation on the first floor, and a microbrewery, restaurant, café and deli on the ground floor.

All profits from the project, backed by local business owners, would be reinvested back into the local area.

York has seen a number of successful pub buyouts in recent years, including The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road.

“Like the Carlton Tavern, the Winning Post was listed as an Asset of Community Value, in this case to protect it from being snapped up by supermarket chains,” said Micklegate councillor Johnny Hayes.

“The local owners have now invested in the pub and transformed it, with a function room for bands and comedy nights. It has great food, a great atmosphere and is a crucial part of our community.”

Protect the Carlton

Inside the Carlton Tavern

The council has moved to protect other city pubs, said Nick Love, York CAMRA’s pub protection officer.

Thanks to the authority issuing an Article 4 Direction, the Punch Bowl pub on Lowther Street was saved from being acquired by Tesco and turned into a supermarket.

“Respected national bodies have objected to the demolition of the Carlton Tavern,” said Nick.

“The pub has just as much potential to thrive under new management with closer community ties, and I understand an alternative bid has been put forward.”

Profit hungry

Paul Crossman at the bar of the Slip Inn

Paul Crossman, licensee of the Swan pub in Bishopthorpe Road, is a national spokesperson for pubs and has personal experience of masterminding buyouts of a number of thriving community pubs in York.

“The issue of viability is central to the threats currently facing pubs all over the UK,” he said.

“Non-viability is invariably quoted by planning applicants as a justification for closing and demolishing or redeveloping pubs – often against the wishes of local communities.

“Very often, the actual issue is that the freeholder’s business model is designed to make as much profit as possible from their pub ‘asset’.

“This can result in charging high prices for tied beer and rents, plus a lack of investment in the building, which inevitably takes its toll on the business.

“With current land values, it’s all too easy for the freeholder to realise a quick and large return from the sale of their property asset for another use.”

Paul added:

I know from personal experience that less profit hungry ‘community’ pubs providing employment, tax revenue and vital social cohesion, can also be perfectly viable.

Planning officials are the last line of defence against the disposal of our irreplaceable pubs, and should treat any claims of ‘non-viability’ with a very healthy degree of scepticism.